Monday, October 26, 2009

Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera by Ron Schick

Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera is the first book to explore the meticulously composed and richly detailed photographs that Norman Rockwell used to create his famous artworks. Working alongside skilled photographers, Rockwell acted as director, carefully orchestrating models, selecting props, and choosing locations for the photographs--works of art in their own right--that served as the basis of his iconic images. Readers will be surprised to find that many of his most memorable characters-the girl at the mirror, the young couple on prom night, the family on vacation-were friends and neighbors who served as his amateur models. In this groundbreaking book, author and historian Ron Schick delves into the archive of nearly 20,000 photographs housed at the Norman Rockwell Museum. Featuring reproductions of Rockwell's black-and-white photographs and related full-color artworks, along with an incisive narrative and quotes from Rockwell models and family members, this book will intrigue anyone interested in photography, art, and Americana.

I've always been a Norman Rockwell fan, I think it runs in my family on my mom's side! I remember back in high school going to an exhibit of nearly all of Rockwell's the Saturday Evening Post covers and just seeing the vast amount of work he's done and not being able to pick a favorite. Some artists create in such a way that is isolates the everyman from their work but Rockwell's work was very open to all. It touched on the high and low points of society at the time and it just makes you smile.

Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera was like a reintroduction to his work, seeing the photography that was used to create his paintings helps you see and appreciate it in a whole new light. I love the way the book is set up. The work is shown in chronological order showing the final painting along with up to several of the original photos and some information and quotes about the piece. More than I would have liked (especially in the Advertisements and Commercial Commissions section) only the photo is published and I would have liked the painting to be there as well, not sure why there was that change in format. It's easy to page through or read from cover to cover. The size of book (about 11.5 x 9.5 inches) allows some of the photography and paintings to be blown up quite large which is a must. One of my favorite spreads is for The Gossips which shows a chain of communication/gossip and on the second page all 30 photos are set up side by side as they are in the final painting.

While Rockwell was very hands out in setting up the photo shoots, he had photographers take the picture for him and never looked through the lens himself. He actually was a model for some of the photography along with people he hired or people he just knew. It's interesting to compare the photograph with the final painting side by side. To see what elements have been changed and what was painting exactly like pictured.

Overall a great book for any Norman Rockwell fan!

Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera was released October 22
Genre: Art & Photography
4/5 Stars
Review copy provided by publisher


  1. Thanks for this! I think I just found my Christmas present for my dad!

  2. I love Norman Rockwell's work too, so I'm sure I'd enjoy this.

  3. I was thinking the exact same thing as Beth! My folks have been to Stockbridge, MA many times to see his work. The company I work for (MassMutual) actually owns some exhibits that they lend out for company events. I enjoyed them immensely.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...