Telling Stories: Norman Rockwell from the Collections of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg

July 1, 2010 — January 2, 2011

Smithsonian American Art Museum (8th and F Streets, NW)

Telling Stories is the first major exhibition to explore in-depth the connections between Norman Rockwell’s iconic images of American life and the movies. Two of America’s best-known modern filmmakers—George Lucas and Steven Spielberg—recognized a kindred spirit in Rockwell and formed significant collections of his work. Rockwell’s paintings and the films of Lucas and Spielberg evoke love of country, small town values, children growing up, unlikely heroes, acts of imagination and life’s ironies.

Rockwell was a masterful storyteller who could distill a narrative into a single frame. His pictures tell stories about the adventure of growing up, of individuals rising up to face personal challenges, the glamour of Hollywood and the importance of tolerance in American life. He created his pictures with strategies similar to those used by filmmakers.

The exhibition is based on new research into Rockwell, his work and the relationships between the artist and the movies. It showcases fifty-seven major Rockwell paintings and drawings from these private collections. The museum is the only venue for the exhibition. Telling Stories is organized by Virginia M. Mecklenburg, senior curator.

A 12-minute film, co-produced by the museum and filmmaker Laurent Bouzereau, will be shown continuously in the exhibition galleries. It features interviews with Lucas and Spielberg that reveal their insights into Rockwell’s art and why certain works appealed to them.

View 2010 Image Gallery

Publication

An exhibition catalogue, Telling Stories: Norman Rockwell from the Collections of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, published by the Smithsonian American Art Museum and Abrams, accompanies the exhibition. 

Credit

Telling Stories: Norman Rockwell from the Collections of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg is organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Booz Allen Hamilton has provided generous support as the corporate sponsor of the exhibition. The museum also gratefully acknowledges the contributions of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg.

Norman Rockwell, Shadow Artist

Norman RockwellShadow Artist, 1920, oil on canvas, Collection of George Lucas