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Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera Hardcover – October 22, 2009


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Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera + Best of Norman Rockwell + Norman Rockwell: 332 Magazine Covers (Tiny Folio)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (October 22, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316006939
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316006934
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 1 x 11.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #29,358 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

What a wonderful book this is--and what a rare behind-the-scenes look at the artistic process it provides. So many of the moments we see as impossibly idealized versions of us are in fact us. Rockwell's genius improves with this 'backstage' glance.—Ken Burns, Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker

A wonderful new book by Ron Schick . . . that lifts the curtain on Rockwell's working methods, revealing how profoundly labor-intensive and thoughtfully imagined they were.—David Kamp, Vanity Fair

Chronicler of midcentury Americana Norman Rockwell often recruited friends and neighbors to pose for the photos that he then used to create the iconic images we know and love. Until now, that part of the painter's process remained mostly hidden, but historian Ron Schick's new book Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera reveals the primary texts next to the colorful classics they became, and the result is truly impossible to put down. Elizabeth Bougerol, NBC NewYork.com

Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera, written and compiled by Ron Schick, has given me immense newfound respect for the man, for the meticulous photography, the real people and the unintentionally hilarious DIY props and sets that he required to make his painted fantasies of Americana come true Wilson Rothman, Gizmodo.com

This is a book about one of our great homespun artists that will make you laugh, and also make you think. It's a real treasure. Alan Cheuse, NPR

About the Author

Ron Schick is a writer and editor specializing in the history of photography. He is the author, with Julia Van Haaften, of The View from Space: American Astronaut Photography. Schick lives in New York City.

More About the Author

Ron Schick was born in Miami, Florida and grew up in Chicago. After studying at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, he became an editor specializing in photography and the visual arts. Ron has worked in art publishing for three decades and has written about photography for national magazines. Today, he is a writer, archival researcher, and an independent curator.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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The book is beautiful, produced on heavy, glossy stock with hundreds of images.
Luanne Ollivier
That he was uneasy about how he created his works is one of the surprises in Behind the Camera.
takingadayoff
The book itself discusses the photographic process Rockwell used to plan his paintings.
rbnn

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

60 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Parka TOP 50 REVIEWER on November 4, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Length: 0:26 Mins
Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera is a book that brings you behind the scenes to look at how the legendary artist uses photographs for his paintings. It's filled with paintings and the reference photographs from the Norman Rockwell Museum.

Apparently, Rockwell used live models for all of his work. Every model will be meticulously costumed and posed until he could get his perfect composition. Preparing the shot almost seems like an art form itself as he tirelessly puts in all the details required, sometimes to the extend of staging elaborate settings, like deciding the items to display on the table behind models. Every painting is well conceived and composed in his mind even before he lays paint on canvas. If you've read any biography of him, you won't be surprised by his dedication.

Included in this book is a great selection of his paintings and the photos he used, put side by side for comparison. The author Ron Schick has done a great job providing commentary to all the illustrations, through interviews with people who have worked with Rockwell. There's plenty of insight and a few lessons to be learned on posing models. You'll see what are the details Rockwell retains and those that he leaves out.

This is an inspiring book recommended to all admirers of Norman Rockwell's paintings, and to artists who want to learn more on using references from the master painter.

(More pictures are available on my blog. Just visit my Amazon profile for the link.)
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53 of 54 people found the following review helpful By rbnn on October 16, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book after reading David Kamp's review in the November 2009 issue of Vanity Fair, which also has good background information on Rockwell. I suggest reading that article for a lot more information than I will provide here.

The book itself discusses the photographic process Rockwell used to plan his paintings. It includes interviews with models and a lot of background information on the technical processes used.

This all turns out to be much more interesting than it might sound. One can see exactly which details Rockwell kept and discarded from the photographs. Of particular interest is how important each detail in the photos is, and the extent to which Rockwell worked to get them right.

There is also some interesting commentary on the social milieu and attitudes of the time. Rockwell in some ways was conciously creating an American mythos, but it was a mythos very grounded in actual fact.

Some of the original paintings or covers are reproduced in a small format (and sometimes not at all) but these are generally easy to find elsewhere, so it is not a serious flaw.

All in all, this was a thought-provoking and educational book that is sure to increase readers' understanding and appreciation both of Rockwell and of painting generally.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Luanne Ollivier TOP 1000 REVIEWER on November 18, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Norman Rockwell is an American icon. His style is easily identifiable, but I had no idea of the processes he used to produce his paintings until I read Behind the Camera.

At first, Rockwell posed his ideas using live models and made preliminary sketches to paint from later. But this proved difficult, as it was hard for the models to hold the expressions that are a hallmark of his style. The next step - photography.

"Photography opened a door to the keenly observed realism that defines Norman Rockwell's art."

But Rockwell struggled with the idea of using photography as a tool to prepare for his painting. Indeed, he took criticism from some of his peers for this decision, but realized he could capture moments in time quickly and reproduce them at leisure.

Thankfully, those photographs have been kept in the Massachusetts Norman Rockwell Museum. This book was produced with those photographic archives.

It is utterly fascinating to see the finished painting on one side of the page and then view the photographs that he used to achieve the look he wanted. Rockwell always used everyday people. All of the props used in a picture/painting were authentic. Details were very important to him.

"I love to tell stories in pictures."

And his pictures do tell stories. The expressions and the details make his work fairly leap off the page. You have to explore every corner. Many times Rockwell painted himself in as an extra.

There are detailed descriptions accompanying every plate. The book itself progresses linearly, from his early work, though to his last completed work - a self portrait in 1976.

The book is beautiful, produced on heavy, glossy stock with hundreds of images. A wonderful coffee table book and one to share. I'm taking mine over when I visit my grandmother. I know she'll enjoy looking at remembered images.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By R. Lapus on October 31, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This book provides an elaborate and captivating look into the creative process followed by one of the most truly American of artists.

A gifted storyteller, Norman Rockwell made use of photography to expand on a theme and create a realistic setting for his story illustrations. With "props bought, borrowed or rented", he constructed a scene that was detailed and natural, peopled by neighbors and friends. These scenes were authentic simply because the people were real. He portrayed American life with gusto and great fidelity.

Known as the "kid with the camera eye", the camera was the instrument used by Rockwell to serve as interface of the eye and the canvas, capturing the nuances and details of a scene which he later edited to reflect his own vision. Much like today's art director, he created a setting, cut and pasted some parts, then filled them with action and color to obtain the end-result he wanted.

These visual images Rockwell created with the help of the camera resonated with the ordinary American. With titles like: "Merry Christmas, Grandma... we came in our new Plymouth" (1951); "Maternity Waiting Room " (1946); "Leaving the Hospital" (1954) these domestic vignettes realistically conveyed the excitement, anxiety, and various emotions of people settling into family life after almost a decade of war and deprivation. The automobile, the newest symbol of prosperity, brought a new way of life and clearly captivated him and his audience.
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (October 22, 2009)224 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.
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