Press Release

On View October 17, 2014 - January 18, 2015

Columbia, S.C. - The Columbia Museum of Art announces a landmark exhibition of the most famous and beloved of American illustrators, Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera, on view from October 17, 2014, through January 8, 2015. This is the first exhibition to explore in-depth Rockwell's richly detailed study photographs, created by the artist as references for his iconic paintings. Rockwell is known for his depictions of everyday life created with humor, skill, and emotion. However, it is little known that he staged photographs to make his popular covers of the Saturday Evening Post. Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera includes 50 photographs that show the careful procedure Rockwell used to make his art, as well as 16 original paintings and drawings, and takes viewers behind the scenes in the creative process of one of America's great masters.

"We are excited to bring to Columbia and South Carolina this first-ever exhibition exploring Norman Rockwell's inventive use of photography to set the stage for his memorable works of art," says Karen Brosius, CMA executive director. "In his artistic approach, Rockwell became known as the 'Kid with the Camera Eye' for his unerring talent and uncanny ability to capture such special moments. Behind the Camera uniquely presents the long-valued relationship between photography and painting while delighting viewers with the inherent charm, energy, and warmth of Rockwell's art."

Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera brings together prints of Rockwell's study photographs and original paintings and drawings from the permanent collection of the Norman Rockwell Museum linked to the photographs on display. The result is a fascinating frame-by-frame view of the development of some of Rockwell's most indelible images. At the same time, the photographs themselves--painstakingly staged by Rockwell and involving an array of models, costumes, props, and settings--are fully realized works of art in their own right.

"People think of artists as rebels, rule breakers, and bohemians," says Will South, CMA chief curator. "The greatest artists are also hard workers, and that includes Norman Rockwell. In Behind the Camera, we get to see just how hard he worked as he used photography to carefully stage every aspect of what would become a magazine illustration. Rockwell added and subtracted detail, moved objects around, and tweaked the expressions on the faces of his sitters until he got it right. Behind the Camera is a wonderful behind-the-scenes look into the working method of an artist who created many of our most memorable pictures of American life."

The CMA is the last venue in the national tour of the exhibition. It is a last chance to see the selection of photographs, paintings, and the creative process of an American master.

"Norman Rockwell was a natural storyteller with an unerring eye for detail," says Stephanie Haboush Plunkett, deputy director and chief curator of the Norman Rockwell Museum. "This ground-breaking exhibition shows how that narrative instinct found its first expression in the artist's meticulously composed photographs."

Accompanying the exhibition is a beautiful, fully illustrated hardback catalogue entitled, Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera, written by Ron Schick with a foreword by Rockwell's son, John Rockwell (Little & Brown, 2009). Copies of the book will be available for purchase in the Museum Shop.

This exhibition is presented through the generosity of SCE&G, South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism, and Richland County.


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