Norman Rockwell’s Storytelling Lessons- page 2 | Arts & Culture | Smithsonian
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Movie Starlet and Reporters, Norman Rockwell, 1936. (Collection of Steven Spielberg © 1936 SEPS: Licensed by Curtis Publishing, Indpls, IN. All rights reserved. Photo © 2010 American Illustrators Gallery TM NYC)

Norman Rockwell’s Storytelling Lessons

George Lucas and Stephen Spielberg found inspiration for their films in the work of one of America’s most cherished illustrators

smithsonian.com

Rockwell used the techniques of a film director to create his scenes. He hired models—often several, depending on the picture—and carefully placed them, for charcoal sketches and later for photographs. Most successful illustrators made their reputations and livings on precise verisimilitude, but Rockwell’s skills were so formidable that he can be seen as a precursor of the Photo Realists of later decades. His pictures draw us into the scene, letting us forget the involvement of the artist and his artifices, in the same way a good director erases our awareness of crews and equipment and the other side of the camera. Rockwell has the power to win us over with his illusions. As Steven Spielberg put it, “I look back at these paintings as America the way it could have been, the way someday it may be again.”

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About Owen Edwards
Owen Edwards

Owen Edwards is a freelance writer who previously wrote the "Object at Hand" column in Smithsonian magazine.

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