What do George Lucas and Steven Spielberg have in common with millions of Scouts and Scouters? These great American filmmakers both love and admire the work of Norman Rockwell, who spent decades illustrating stories and painting covers for Boysâ€™ Life Scouting magazine and the annual Brown & Bigelow Boy Scout calendars.
Of course, when your movies have brought in billions of dollars, you can do more than just admire an artist: Lucas and Spielberg have long been major collectors of Rockwellâ€™s work.
Now you can see a sizable portion of those collections at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. The filmmakers, who teamed up on the popular Indiana Jones series, have aligned againâ€”this time to arrange the loan of 57 of their Rockwell paintings and drawings for an exhibition that opened in July.
Exploring the relationships between Rockwellâ€™s images of American life and the movies, the exhibition showcases the artistâ€™s ability to distill a narrative into a single frameâ€”a characteristic that inspired both Lucas and Spielberg as they contemplated careers in filmmaking.
As did the Boy Scouts, in Spielbergâ€™s case. â€œWhen I went for a Photography merit badge, I made a little 8mm movie,â€ the Eagle Scout says. â€œAnd the Boy Scouts in my troopâ€”294, Scottsdale, Ariz.â€”liked the movie, made a lot of noise, laughed, clapped, and all that. I got that great virus of â€˜Iâ€™ve got to do this the rest of my life.â€™â€
Lucas, who started collecting comic art as a kid, adds that â€œgrowing up on Rockwellâ€ gave him an edge as he entered the movie business because of the artistâ€™s ability to â€œcastâ€ a painting.
â€œTheyâ€™re designed, theyâ€™re written, and theyâ€™re put in there very specifically,â€ he says of the people Rockwell used in his artworks. â€œEach oneâ€”their faces, their expressions, their thinkingâ€”everything about them has been cast. Thatâ€™s what you do in the movies. Heâ€™s fabricating a story.â€
See â€œTelling Stories: Norman Rockwell From the Collections of George Lucas and Steven Spielbergâ€ before it closes Jan. 2, 2011. Admission is free, and you can find more details at americanart.si.edu. Itâ€™s a perfect opportunity to view the art that â€œcaptured societyâ€™s ambitions and emotions,â€ says Lucas.
You can also view the world’s largest collection of original Norman Rockwell Scouting artwork, as well as works by Joseph Csatari, Remington Schuyler, and others at theÂ National Scouting Museum in Irving Texas -http://www.bsamuseum.orgÂ Â
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Were you involved in Scouting?Â Are you an Eagle Scout?Â Let us know- we want to hear from you!Â Â Reconnect and Reengage in Scouting at www.BSAAlumni.org