Norman Rockwell's Photographic Inspiration
Norman Rockwell rendered his paintings from staged photographs of family and friends.
If Norman Rockwell's name doesn't sound familiar, one look at one of his many paintings will certainly conjure up a memory of coming across his work. There's an unnamable quality to Rockwell's paintings, beyond his photorealist style and all-American subject matter. Always charming and often comical, his paintings and illustrations are iconic depictions of mid-century America.
As it turns out, Rockwell rendered his paintings from staged photographs. Using neighbors and friends as models and a rotating team of photographers, each of Rockwell's paintings – almost always commissioned by magazines and advertising companies – involved an alternating cast of real-life characters.
Displayed alongside their photographic counterparts, Rockwell's paintings exhibit the extent of the artist's creative inventiveness. His additions, ranging from slight to more substantial details, lend towards images that can do something different than the photograph alone.
The Norman Rockwell Museum, located in Rockwell's hometown of Stockbridge, Massachusetts plans to make the artist's photographic archive available online in the near future, giving more fans more insight into the work of an icon.