Norman Rockwell (1894-1978) was a 20th-century American author, painter and illustrator whose works appealed to a broad population in the United States for its reflection of American culture. Rockwell is most famous for the cover illustrations of everyday life he created for The Saturday Evening Post magazine over a period of nearly five decades.
Finding success at a young age, Rockwell became the art director of Boys’ Life, the official publication of the Boy Scouts of America in his teenage years. At age 21, Rockwell set up a studio with the cartoonist Clyde Forsythe and in 1916, the 22-year-old Rockwell painted his first cover for The Saturday Evening Post. Over the next 47 years, another 321 Rockwell covers would appear on the cover of the Post.
Early in his career, Rockwell would hire professional models to pose for the characters in his paintings. However, beginning in the mid-1930s he embraced photography and began using friends and neighbors rather than professional models. For Rockwell, already known as “the kid with the camera eye,” photography was more than an artist’s aid. The familiarity with his new subjects paired with the camera’s ability to capture a fleeting expression or freeze a difficult pose, brought a new flesh-and-blood realism to his work and opened a window to the keenly observed authenticity that defines his art.
Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera is the first exhibition to delve deeply into Rockwell’s richly detailed study photographs, created by the artist as references for his iconic paintings. Organized with author and guest curator, Ron Schick, the exhibition 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 and showcases the behind-the-scenes shots as works of art themselves.
The exhibition, Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera, is organized and circulated by the Norman Rockwell Museum and brings together prints of Rockwell’s study photographs and original paintings and drawings from their permanent collection.