July 1, 2010
Norman Rockwell, painter of hundreds of Saturday Evening Post covers, was long derided as an artistic dead end because he had so little influence on subsequent celebrity painters. But that always struck me as stupid because Rockwell was hugely influential on one of the most influential cultural figures of the later 20th Century, Steven Spielberg, who mostly paid for the Rockwell museum in Massachusetts.
That Rockwell didn't have much impact on subsequent painters just shows that painting was becoming a minor art due to technological advance. Rockwell operated much like a modern filmmaker, holding auditions for models and having his staff construct sets and assemble props. If he'd been born a couple of generations later, he might well have become a movie director.
It turns out that George Lucas owns even more Rockwells than Spielberg does. Together, they are mounting an exhibit at the Smithsonian: "Telling Stories: Norman Rockwell From the Collections of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg."
If your followers include Spielberg and Lucas, your influence lives on.