Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera, Exhibit Review

Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera is currently being exhibited at the Gilcrease Museum until June 10, 2018. It is organized by the Norman Rockwell Museum and guest curator Ron Schick. As the Gilcrease states on their website, “it is the first exhibition to explore in depth Rockwell’s richly detailed study photographs, created by the artist as references for his iconic paintings.” The exhibit goes behind the scenes and shows the process that Rockwell went through in order to create the finished product. The pieces being portrayed include preliminary drawings done by Rockwell, as well as real-life pictures taken to emphasize the person or scene being portrayed. He then creates the final painting using references from his earlier drawings or pictures.

Rockwell was an artist from a young age, proving what he wanted to do in life and showing that he was good at it. He would eventually do work for The Saturday Evening Post, and then for Look Magazine. The transition from the Post to Look Magazine emphasized a shift of focus in his work. The Norman Rockwell Museum states on their website how after the transition, “Rockwell painted pictures illustrating some of his deepest concerns and interests, including civil rights, America’s war on poverty, and the exploration of space.” In the Gilcrease exhibit, it shows this shift in his work.

It is amazing to see Rockwell’s creative process through numerous pieces on display and how his style changed over the years. The exhibit states how even though Rockwell initially used models to pose for his pictures, he convinced both his neighbors and friends to begin posing for him, as their expressions seemed more genuine. Every part of his creative process was thought out carefully and others were more than happy to assist him in his work. Rockwell had incredible artistic abilities and this exhibit does an exceptional job in showing that. The way in which this exhibit is formed creates an easy flow for the visitor to move through naturally, allowing them to be fully immersed in Rockwell’s work.


The Runaway by Norman Rockwell, 1958, Oil on Canvas
Art Critic by Norman Rockwell, 1955, Oil on Canvas
Norman Rockwell would have someone pose in a specific position and take a photograph so he could look back for a point of reference when he began to paint.
This photograph is another example of how Rockwell would have someone pose for a photograph, and then use it as a reference while painting.
The Tattoo Artist by Norman Rockwell, 1944. The two previous pictures were reference photographs for Rockwell while painting, this is the completed work.