Looking forward to the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art

What could be in George Lucas’ collection of art? His collection is so immense, that he is opening a museum to showcase the work.

A few years ago Lucas wanted to build his museum in Chicago. However, the location was on the wrong side of Lake Shore Drive where buildings are not allowed to be built—to keep the lake forever open and free to the public.

I was a bit torn about it. I agree that the lake is a jewel for Chicago. The long uninterrupted expanses make the lakeshore really unique for a large metropolitan city. However, the location of the museum was planned go right inside of Chicago’s “Museum Campus” with the existing Adler Planetarium; the Shedd Aquarium; and the Field Museum of Natural History. Why not add another museum to the mix?

Narrative art not taken seriously

Maybe people didn’t take Lucas’ art collection serious enough. Named “Lucas Museum of Narrative Art” the collection is full of “narrative art”. Not the standard “fine art” you’d find in the Art Institute of Chicago. Somehow, this art isn’t considered as serious as fine art.

In life it’s a lot easier to tear something down, rather than build something up. It’s easy enough for someone to make fun of his collection, like it would be something inferior.

Lucas’s collection is unknown. People fear the unknown. They want to cling to the standard narrative that major art museums provide. That’s what people are comfortable with. It’s what we know, and it’s approved.

This Lucas collection is full of what? We don’t completely know. Is it all Star Wars storyboards? “Oh that’s silly! That’s not fine art.” I would disagree. Star Wars is EPIC. Let it be fine art.

Vanity Fair posted 20 images from Lucas’ collection. I won’t reproduce the images here, but I’ll share the list, so you can get an idea:

  • N. C. Wyeth: The Storybook (1921)
  • R. Crumb: The Book of Genesis: Chapter One (2009)
  • Thornton Utz: Commuter Pick-up (1956)
  • Romare Bearden: Scylla and Charybdis (1977)
  • Norman Rockwell: After the Prom (1957)
  • Gordon Parks: Store Front, Mobile, Alabama (1956)
  • Jacob Lawrence: Harlem Street Scene (1942)
  • Arthur Szyk: Parade of the Mighty Warriors (1942)
  • Thomas Hart Benton: Axes (Clearing the Land) (1924–27)
  • Norman Rockwell: Saying Grace (1951)
  • Maxfield Parrish: Air Castles (1904)
  • Paul C. Stahr: Retouching an Old Masterpiece (1915)
  • Henrique Alvim Corrêa: Martian Fighting Machine Hit by Shell, from The War of the Worlds (1906)
  • A Winsor McCay editorial cartoon, New York Herald (circa 1920s)
  • Romare Bearden: The Sea Nymph (1977)
  • Jessie Willcox Smith: Little Red Riding Hood (1911)
  • Gordon Parks: Ondria Tanner and Her Grandmother Window-shopping, Mobile, Alabama (1956)
  • Elizabeth Shippen Green: The Child in Garden—The Little Gate (1914)
  • Carrie Mae Weems: Untitled, Kitchen Table Series (1990)
  • Joseph Leyendecker: Republicans vs. Democrats (1936)

A name that pops out is Normal Rockwell. I wonder why fine art museums have never embraced Rockwell. I suppose he doesn’t fit nicely into the progress of fine art becoming more and more abstract in the 20th century.

Within this list we see a couple names of artists you’d find in a standard art museum: N. C. Wyeth, R. Crumb, and Thomas Hart Benton.

I hope this museum has a ton of comic book art. The stuff being produced today in comic books is so amazing. It should be considered fine art.

LA gets the museum

The controversy of this museum sitting on the wrong side of Lake Shore Drive eventually drove George Lucas to place his museum in LA. The home of Hollywood is a fitting place for an art museum dedicated to the narrative.

I would love to visit the museum someday it opens in LA. And I welcome any sort of challenge to the typical curation we see in larger, more established art museums. Let the definition and history of art evolve over time.

Hopefully the Lucas Museum will post their collection online. They post new acquisitions on their Facebook Page. It’s interesting to get some sneak peeks into what is in the collection. So far, I’ve found only a handful.

The Lucas Museum is thrilled to have acquired Robert Colescott’s “George Washington Carver Crossing the Delaware: Page from an American History Textbook.” This landmark painting is a stunning breakthrough in late 20th-century American art.
Take a closer look at some of the items in the archive of Judith F. Baca's "The Great Wall of Los Angeles," which is now part of the Lucas Museum's collection, and read the stories behind some of the events portrayed in the artist's landmark mural.
We are excited to announce the recent acquisition of the Separate Cinema Archive—37,000+ rare items that document African American cinema history from 1904 to today and present a more inclusive history about the making and selling of feature films. Film posters, lobby cards, film stills, and more are included in the archive.
The Lucas Museum has acquired Norman Rockwell’s masterpiece “Shuffleton’s Barbershop” as part of our growing art collection.  We are committed to enabling this cultural treasure to be seen by the public for generations to come.

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