An exclusive first look at the collection of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art
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http://projects.sfchronicle.com/2016/lucas-art/

 

It seems nearly everyone has an opinion about the collection of the Lucas Museum, which made Bacigalupi its first professional staff member last year. “It’s a ‘Star Wars’ museum,” some have said. “It’s a Hollywood memorabilia museum.” On Twitter, Los Angeles Times art critic Christopher Knight called it “George Lucas’ planned Treacle Museum.” But who has actually seen the collection? Only a few people, says Bacigalupi — and no journalist. Until now.

 

Having had the first opportunity to evaluate the collection, I am glad to say it is none of those things. In fact, it may just be the core of a great museum.

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“Narrative art is, simply stated, visual art that tells a story,” Bacigalupi says. “It manifests itself in every kind of medium, in every culture, in every form that you can imagine.”

 

That’s clear enough in concept, but making a museum collection out of it would be a daunting challenge. It would start with cave drawings and go on from there, encompassing all but the abstract and the purely symbolic. But there is a more focused idea: a mission, really, to provide an alternative to the current institutional view of what is worthy of preservation and study as art. In terms of the Bay Area, I see the Lucas Museum as a critical enhancement of the work of our many existing museums and public galleries, and not at all duplicative.

 

“The museum world has often ignored ... some of the most compelling narrative art forms,” Bacigalupi argues. “So they tend to be relegated to the status of low art, or popular art or media art — all the binaries that we set up with ‘high’ and ‘low,’ and ‘popular’ and ‘fine.’”

 

In the 20th century, he says, “the most popular arena for storytelling in visual form has been things like film and illustration and comics and animation. ... Instead of us getting into that debate about what is art and what isn’t art, the museum really doesn’t pay attention to that capital “A” Art, and instead looks for this through line, this continuity in whatever form, whatever context, whatever medium ... for this very basic human impulse: to tell stories.”

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So many media reports used derisive terms to describe the Lucas collection up until now. They made it sound like a display of Star Wars toys which would only appeal to movie fans. I do hope San Francisco gets it's act together this time.

 

Steven

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This is fabulous . Narrative painting took a bludgeoning during the 60,and 70's ( the De Kooning era) and has gradually crept back into he public eye and prominence .This a giant step.Great post and info.I had lost track of this project.

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This is fabulous . Narrative painting took a bludgeoning during the 60,and 70's ( the De Kooning era) and has gradually crept back into he public eye and prominence .This a giant step.Great post and info.I had lost track of this project.

 

I think you mean the 1870s!

 

Impressionists went one way. Salon art went another way and died out (?). But I think you can draw a pretty straight line between classical Salon art and commercial illustration art at the turn of the century. (Jean Leon Gerome to Andre Castaigne, for example.)

 

Narrative art has almost always been the "popular art" in whatever was the current medium -- canvas, slicks (magazines), concept art, 3D pre-vis, etc. I think if the museum can make these kinds of connections, it will be a worthwhile addition.

 

 

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I hope this dream becomes a reality soon. I just saw the Crumb Genesis pages when on vacation in Seattle and they were amazing in person. the breadth of the collection is pretty incredible. I need to figure how to get in the way of something he wants though. I am sure that would be a lucrative proposition

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You have a point in regards to the 1870s and the emergence of Impressionist painting.but there have always been proponents of Narrative painting since then although I would hesitate to term them the "Popular Art in what ever current medium".

Winslow Homer, Eakins , Bellows, Thomas Hart Benton and others and perhaps even Edwood Hopper could be termed a narrative painter at least that's how it was in the Fine Arts arena and that's just the Americans.

I still think the low point for the appreciation of narrative artwork was the 50's 60's Abstract Expressionist era . Frankly I'm glad that's over.

 

 

Edited by rrichards

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You're absolutely right about Bellows, Benton, Hopper, etc. Perhaps that would be an opportunity for the museum to discuss the line between fictional narrative and documentary in painting.

 

(I was lucky to see this terrific Bellows exhibit in DC a few years back. I had a greater appreciation of his work afterward- http://www.nga.gov/content/ngaweb/exhibitions/2012/bellows_2012.html)

 

In any case, I think the uphill battle is going to be distinguishing the museum from the Brandywine or Rockwell museums or the Society of Ilustrators / MOCCA. Or maybe there just needs to be a West Coast version of those.

 

I think for MOST people and MOST comic art, there is no difference with seeing it in person vs. online. But with some of the larger canvas illustration work such as the Wyeths and Rockwells, the in-person experience is quite different.

 

(I would encourage anyone in the NY area to hit up the American auction previews at Bonhams, Sothebys, and Christies during the Fall and Spring. They often have the higher end illustrators on view.)

 

There have been numerous successful Pixar exhibits at places like the MOMA and Cooper Hewitt. But those have all-ages family-outing appeal.

 

Maybe "narrative art" is more of a branding problem. Is this an animation museum? comic art? illustration art? political cartoon art? Americana? Those are vastly different audiences.

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I think some of the collection was bought thru Grapefruitmoon com .they have the best selection in the world of illustrative, pin up, and pulp art that is for sale...they have just some incredible stuff..here is the link...

 

http://grapefruitmoongallery.com

 

 

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You have a point in regards to the 1870s and the emergence of Impressionist painting.but there have always been proponents of Narrative painting since then although I would hesitate to term them the "Popular Art in what ever current medium".

Winslow Homer, Eakins , Bellows, Thomas Hart Benton and others and perhaps even Edwood Hopper could be termed a narrative painter at least that's how it was in the Fine Arts arena and that's just the Americans.

I still think the low point for the appreciation of narrative artwork was the 50's 60's Abstract Expressionist era . Frankly I'm glad that's over.

 

 

You might like this article :)

 

http://the-easel.com/essays/nicole-eisenman-and-figuration/

Edited by suspense39

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You have a point in regards to the 1870s and the emergence of Impressionist painting.but there have always been proponents of Narrative painting since then although I would hesitate to term them the "Popular Art in what ever current medium".

Winslow Homer, Eakins , Bellows, Thomas Hart Benton and others and perhaps even Edwood Hopper could be termed a narrative painter at least that's how it was in the Fine Arts arena and that's just the Americans.

I still think the low point for the appreciation of narrative artwork was the 50's 60's Abstract Expressionist era . Frankly I'm glad that's over.

 

 

You might like this article :)

 

http://the-easel.com/essays/nicole-eisenman-and-figuration/

 

Thx for posting. A good read.

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That's some pricey treacle. :jokealert:

 

It's almost like all these upstart museums feel like they have to have a trophy piece that they overpaid for in a public sale to serve as a focal point for visitors (and critics). Witness the Neue Galerie's 2006 purchase of Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I by Klimt or the Crystal Bridges Museum's 2005 purchase of Kindred Spirits by Asher Durand which ruffled a lot of feathers when the painting left New York for Arkansas.

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Lucas will get more into the market as a location is a reality..they have acquired about 10% of what they hope to acquire in the next 20 years...calling it the seed collection.I know grapefuritmoongallery.com sold them some great stuff along with ha.com as well as illustration house...Lucas has been collecting for years..since the 70"s, its a good time if you are a buyer not to compete with them when get full steam....they just need a location, it looks like back to SF.

Edited by Mmehdy

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