Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera explores Rockwell's study photographs, commissioned by the artist as references for his iconic paintings. Organized by the Norman Rockwell Museum, this presentation reveals a rarely seen yet fundamental aspect of Rockwell's creative process, and unveils a significant new body of Rockwell imagery in an unexpected medium.
Bringing together paintings, drawings, tear sheets, magazine covers, and prints of Rockwell study photographs results in a frame-by-frame view of the development of some of Rockwell's most indelible images.
Early in his career, Rockwell hired professional models to pose for the characters in his paintings. Beginning in the mid-1930s, however, the evolving naturalism of his work led him to embrace photography. For Rockwell, the camera brought a new flesh-and-blood realism to his work, and opened a window to the keenly observed authenticity that defines his art. Working with friends and neighbors rather than professional models fired Rockwell’s imagination by providing a wide array of everyday faces.
Rockwell's studio sessions allowed him to carefully orchestrate each element of his design for the camera, selecting props and locations, choosing and directing his models, even getting in on the action to pose and perform. Rockwell staged his photography much as a film director works with a cinematographer, instructing his cameramen when to shoot, yet never personally firing the shutter. He created dozens, perhaps hundreds of photographs for each new subject, sometimes capturing complete compositions and other times jigsawing together separate pictures of individual elements.
Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera is accompanied by a catalogue of the same title, written by curator Ron Schick. The publication features an introduction by Haboush Plunkett and a foreword by Rockwell's grandson John Rockwell.
Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera has been organized by the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.
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