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Arts & Culture

Norman Rockwell’s Proto-Photorealism at the McNay

Photo: Courtesy Photos, License: N/A

Courtesy Photos

The Marriage License, painting (above), and photograph (below)

Photo: , License: N/A

An insightful wall installation shows how Rockwell assembled various photographs, selected from more than 73 images, to paint Boy in a Dining Car (1948), including adding a shot of the waiter’s feet because the train car was too narrow for the camera to capture the full figure.

In one exuberant photo of a girl with outstretched arms posed for Leaving the Hospital (1954), Rockwell, wearing a bowtie and sports jacket, is directing the girl with an amazed look on his face. In several of the photos, you can see the artist’s hands and arms pointing directions and he sometimes posed for images himself. However, one of the best paintings in the show, The Marriage License (1955), almost perfectly duplicates an original photograph, which didn’t require much editing by Rockwell.

Rockwell moved to the more liberal Look in the 1960s, freeing him to take on more topical subjects, such as The Problem We All Live With (1964). While models were used in his re-creation of the story of Ruby Bridges, one of the first African-American children to attend an all-white school in New Orleans, Rockwell’s painting of the young girl being escorted to school, the blood-red splat of a hurled tomato on the wall behind her, is one of the most enduring images of the Civil Rights era.

Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera

$10-$15; free for members; Free 4-9 pm Thu
Noon-5pm Sun; 10am-4pm Tue, Wed, Fri; 10am-9pm Thu; 10am-5pm Sat
McNay Art Museum
6000 N New Braunfels
(210) 824-5368
Through Sept. 1

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