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Rockwell and the Movies


What do George Lucas and Steven Spielberg have in common with mil- lions of Scouts and Scouters? These great American filmmakers both love and admire the work of Norman Rockwell, who spent decades illustrat- ing stories and painting covers for Boys’ Life and the annual Brown & Bigelow Boy Scouts 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 Rockwell’s work. Now you can see a


sizable portion of those col- lections at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. The film- makers, who teamed up on the popular Indiana Jones series, have aligned again— this time to arrange the loan of 57 of their Rockwell paintings and drawings for an exhibition that opened in July.


Exploring the relation-


ships between Rockwell’s images of American life and the movies, the exhibi- tion showcases the artist’s ability to distill a narrative into a single frame—a characteristic that inspired both Lucas and Spielberg as they con- templated careers in filmmaking. As did the Boy Scouts, in Spielberg’s


case. “When I went for a Photography merit badge, I made a little 8mm movie,” the Eagle Scout says. “And the Boy Scouts in my troop—294, Scottsdale, Ariz.—liked the movie, made a lot of noise, laughed, clapped, and all that. I got that great virus of ‘I’ve


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Rockwell’s Spirit of America (1929) represents just one artistic highlight of the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s exhibition and catalog.


got to do this the rest of my life.’” Lucas, who started collecting comic


art as a kid, adds that “growing up on Rockwell” gave him an edge as he entered the movie business because of the artist’s ability to “cast” a painting. “They’re designed, they’re written,


and they’re put in there very specifi- cally,” he says of the people Rockwell used in his artworks. “Each one—their faces, their expressions, their think-


S COUTING ¿ NOVEMBER•DECEMBER 2010


ing—everything about them has been cast. That’s what you do in the movies. He’s fabricating a story.” See “Telling Stories: Norman Rockwell


From the Collections of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg” before it closes Jan. 2, 2011. Admission is free, and you can find more details at americanart. si.edu. It’s a perfect opportunity to view the art that “captured society’s ambi- tions and emotions,” says Lucas.


EDNA J. LEMONS


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