Wednesday, July 07, 2010
July 7, 2010 "Hello, Norman..."
Given Dave's penchant for Norman Rockwell, today's posting is nearly on topic for Aartvark.
I have always liked Rockwell. The guy could compose a scene like any Renaissance master. I just double-dog dare you to study one of his works close up and not have your eyes do exactly what Norman wanted them to do.
I've seen exhibits before. I've been to the museum in Stockbridge. But on July 4, an exhibit opened at the Smithsonian American Art Museum (just exit at the Gallery Place-Chinatown Metro stop and you are there). I went to see it today, and there is a collection of 57 truly unique pieces. And as interesting as they are... and as fun as they are to see... the real charm of this exhibit is that all 57 pieces come from the private collections of two people: George Lucas and Steven Spielberg.
I'm still reeling over that one. There is a lovely 12-minute video that is made up from two interviews done with the guys for the expressed purpose of this exhibit. It's all so familiar, listening to them talk about collecting original Rockwell drawings and paintings in exactly the same way we talk about collecting comic art. There is a moment when Lucas talks about having collected comic art, and then he made American Graffiti, and "so I had the resources to start collecting other things." Spielberg talks about how one particular painting always "spoke to him" so strongly that when he found out it was coming on the market, he had to have it.
I want to know more about how this really works between the two of them. Some art dealer comes up with a Rockwell for sale, and approaches the two of them? Do they keep a little fleet of minions who only report to them? They have to have worked out a deal between themselves, right, so that every sale does not end up as a ping-pong match?
This is not addressed at all in the little movie. I really wish they had put them in the same room to do these interviews... two collectors talking about the stuff in the other guy's collection that they wish they had.
And this ain't about pages from funny books. It's freaking Rockwell originals they are collecting.
Was I jealous while I was watching that movie? Damn straight I was! Green as the Charles River on St. Patrick's Day.
It was fun to have stuff like this, side by side. Of course, it was the first time in decades. The pencil study is owned by Lucas, and the final painting is Spielberg's.
Start of rant.
Rockwell's gotten pretty well beaten up over the years by the post-modernists who criticize the one-note, one-color American ideal represented in his work, and both Lucas and Spielberg's interest in Rockwell is being excoriated as affirming this point of view, because, after all, isn't that exactly what they do in their movies?
This is why it is so easy to find abstract art made up of giant lumps of twisted metal on so many college campuses. Once you actually depict something, you cannot depict everything, so everyone who is not depicted let's you know about it. Safer to stick with depicting nothing in particular and so everything in general.
End of rant.
The exhibit runs until January 2011. It's worth a visit if you're anywhere near DC this year.