Monday, May 2, 2011

Norman Rockwell Exhibit at the Tacoma Art Museum

I had the pleasure of going to the Norman Rockwell exhibit at the Tacoma Art Museum this last weekend with my good friend.  This was an extraordinary experience for me; beautiful weather, great company, and a revelation about an artist I hadn’t put much though into before.     
My favorite permanent installation
at the Tacoma Art Museum.

If you could not tell by my prints, I love to tell stories with art.  I have always adored Rockwell’s images for the stories they tell but I never once put any thought into what medium he used or how large the originals were.  That is until I found myself standing in this gallery looking at these large oil canvases and being struck dumb by the amount of work that went into each one.  Yet he did not consider himself an artist.  He preferred the term illustrator because of his lack of passion. 

There was one statement made by Norman that struck me the most.  I cannot quote it word for word, but it was the idea that he was envious of students who swooned over the Mona Lisa.  This was because he did not have that kind of passion for art work, he considered himself more analytical.

This idea makes perfect sense to me as I begun to see his process unfold.  It was almost scientific the way he would pose people, photograph them, collect data, take notes, and make numerous studies in charcoal and paint.  Every smile, every embellished eyebrow, every wrinkle, every detail was calculated out before the final painting was started.    

Even with all this exact science or analytical style of painting, I consider him a master of the art.  I know some don’t consider him an artist for the same reason he did not consider it himself, but I have absolutely no problem referencing him as a great.  Nor do I have a problem falling deeply in love with his work after being in the presence of his original oils on canvas.  It gives me a whole new perspective of his work, and the medium he mastered. 
If you are in the area, I do hope you make a point to stop by and visit this exhibit at the Tacoma Art Museum.  Not only did we see the Rockwell Exhibit but we walked over the bridge of glass and witnessed a bell choir performing the Phantom of the Opera.  It was a beautiful day that ended with us eating watermelon in the sunshine.  

If you have never walked over the bridge of glass you are missing out.

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