Telling Stories, based on the Rockwell collections of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, is the first book to chart the connections between Rockwell's iconic images of American life and the movies. Rockwell, the quintessential American mythmaker of the twentieth century, was a storyteller on a par with the great Hollywood directors of his day. Within his art, the fantasies and foibles of ordinary people are given life, central among them the themes of love of country, the sanctity of family, and the value of personal honour. Spielberg and Lucas - masterful storytellers and mythmakers themselves - are kindred spirits whose early introduction to art and the American dream came via Rockwell's famous magazine art. Rockwell composed his scenes with precision, carefully controlling each detail to enrich his characters. Spielberg and Lucas used similar techniques to shape some their most successful films, among them American Graffiti, Star Wars, ET: The Extraterrestrial, the Indiana Jones series and Saving Private Ryan.
Essays by curator Virginia Mecklenburg and film critic Todd McCarthy explore this influence, also revealing Rockwell to have been an artist used techniques inspired by Hollywood movies in his visual storytelling. Telling Stories, which accompanies an exhibition at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, is richly illustrated with Rockwell images, photographs, and film stills.
Virginia M. Mecklenburg, a senior curator at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, writes, lectures, and organizes exhibitions featuring American art of the twentieth century. She authored Modern Masters: American Abstraction at Midcentury, Earl Cunningham's America and Edward Hopper: The Watercolors and coauthored Metropolitan Lives: The Ashcan Artists and Their New York, which won the Alfred H. Barr Jr. award in 1997. Todd McCarthy is the longtime chief film critic for Variety. His books include Kings of the Bs: Working within the Hollywood System, Howard Hawks: The Grey Fox of Hollywood and Fast Women: The Legendary Ladies of Racing. He won an Emmy Award for writing the documentary Preston Sturges: The Rise and Fall of an American Dreamer.