Norman Rockwell’s working methods utilized photography as a tool to facilitate the composition, poses, speed and perspectives he achieved in his work. Controversial discussion continues about the long lineage of artists who deployed photography as an aid in painting. Artists have always created studies for their works. Traditional drawings, or cartoons, as these large graphic sketches are known in Europe, are as time-honored as final paintings. Tapestry makers created tapestries from these drawings. Film makers create story boards with sketches of their scenes, and then sometimes use still photography to capture and witness lighting or an angle. Sculptors sketch, and create maquettes before sculpting the finished work. Artists find all kinds of inventive and creative ways to aid in the production and creation of their work. Photography is another such tool.
Behind the Camera, Norman Rockwell Museum’s current exhibition about a book by the same title, by author Ron Schick, has an informative introduction by Stephanie Plunkett, Deputy Director and Chief Curator of Norman Rockwell Museum about the long tradition of artists’ use of photography. An enlightening story by Jackie Lyden on National Public Radio probes in-depth this tradition, and has generated a bit of controvery with an interview with the reclusive photographer Clemens Kalichser, who from time to time, worked for Norman Rockwell, and created some beautiful candid portraiture of the artist at work. Listen to the NPR story, and read the viewer comments at http://www.npr.org/blogs/pictureshow/2009/11/comments/rockwell.html?storyId=114414103&pageNum=2&pPageNum=2 and come see the exhibition at Norman Rockwell Museum.