McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, one of the most beautiful and unique museums in the country, is currently featuring "Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera." This stunning landmark exhibition explores in depth Rockwell’s richly detailed 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. The exhibit features Rockwell's paintings, drawings, tear sheets, magazine covers and prints, as well as a frame-by-frame view of the development of some of Rockwell’s most indelible images. Outside the McNay Art Museum — Photo courtesy of McNay Art Museum
Early in Rockwell's career, he 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 exemplifies his beloved art. The transition to working with friends and neighbors inspired Rockwell’s imagination by providing a vast array of everyday, familiar 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 sometimes hundreds of photographs for each new subject, sometimes capturing complete compositions and other times jig-sawing together separate pictures of individual elements.
This exhibit showcases the photography element of Rockwell, who is remembered as a great illustrator and painter.