"Narrative art tells the story of a society—most importantly, what the common beliefs are that hold it together."
—George Lucas

Judith F. Baca, final coloration for 1950: The Development of Suburbia, for The Great Wall of Los Angeles, 1983

Judith F. Baca, final coloration for 1950: The Development of Suburbia, for The Great Wall of Los Angeles, 1983

Norman Rockwell, Shuffleton's Barbershop, 1950

Norman Rockwell, Shuffleton's Barbershop, 1950

Carrie Mae Weems, Untitled (Outtake from the Kitchen Table Series), 1990–92

Carrie Mae Weems, Untitled (Outtake from the Kitchen Table Series), 1990–92

Paul Cadmus, The Haircut, 1986

Paul Cadmus, The Haircut, 1986

Narratives are the stories we all live with. They inform how we view and understand the world, giving shape and character to real events, imagined realities, and systems of power. Narrative art gives visual form to specific stories and the meanings they contain. These stories may be readily apparent in the arrangement of figures or the representation of action or intent. They also may be suggested through mood, atmosphere, or the use of iconography. The perspectives that viewers bring to artworks inform the meaning and significance of the narratives they convey. Reflecting human experiences and aspirations, narrative artworks can be read across time, culture, and language.

Although the term “narrative art” first appeared in the mid-1960s, visual storytelling has always been a central function of art. Much of the world’s artistic output is narrative, conveying stories rooted in religion, myth, legend, history, literature, or contemporary events. The narrative impulse has also thrived in cultures with non-figurative artistic traditions. Near the end of the nineteenth century, artists and critics in Europe and the United States advanced approaches to art that emphasized the formal qualities of a work over its narrative content. This perspective on art history has often overlooked or undervalued traditional modes of storytelling, as well as the proliferation of new narrative forms—such as the mass press, cinema, and advertising—that found their way into many aspects of everyday life. The role of narrative within artistic practice has evolved and expanded over time, and storytelling continues to motivate artists in all media and resonate across all cultures.

The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art takes an inclusive approach to visual storytelling, exploring academically rooted and mass-produced art forms as well as new modes of creative practice. Encompassing all forms of visual narrative, including painting, sculpture, photography, video, performance, and installation, narrative art can provide a window onto lived experience, elicit emotion, ignite imagination, or move us to action. We empower diverse audiences to connect and engage with artworks through the compelling stories they contain.

Jacob Lawrence, An Underground Railroad, 1967

Jacob Lawrence, An Underground Railroad, 1967

Jessie Willcox Smith,  The Sewing Lesson, cover for Collier’s, 1907

Jessie Willcox Smith, The Sewing Lesson, cover for Collier’s, 1907

Kadir Nelson, Art Connoisseurs, 2019

Kadir Nelson, Art Connoisseurs, 2019

Diego Rivera, Opponent of Nazism, from Portrait of America, 1933

Diego Rivera, Opponent of Nazism, from Portrait of America, 1933

Charles White, presentation study for Mary McLeod Bethune Mural, 1977–78

Charles White, presentation study for Mary McLeod Bethune Mural, 1977–78

Robert Colescott, George Washington Carver Crossing the Delaware: Page from an American History Textbook, 1975

Robert Colescott, George Washington Carver Crossing the Delaware: Page from an American History Textbook, 1975

​Cara Romero, The Last Indian Market, 2015

​Cara Romero, The Last Indian Market, 2015

​Artist unknown, poster for St. Louis Blues, 1929

​Artist unknown, poster for St. Louis Blues, 1929

Criselda Vasquez, The New American Gothic, 2017

Criselda Vasquez, The New American Gothic, 2017

Jack Kirby (penciler) and Frank Giacoia (inker), cover for Black Panther, vol. 1, no. 6, 1977

Jack Kirby (penciler) and Frank Giacoia (inker), cover for Black Panther, vol. 1, no. 6, 1977

Miguel Covarrubias, Rumba, 1942

Miguel Covarrubias, Rumba, 1942

Henri Cartier-Bresson, Funeral of a Kabuki Actor, Japan, 1965; printed c. 1990s

Henri Cartier-Bresson, Funeral of a Kabuki Actor, Japan, 1965; printed c. 1990s

Ralph McQuarrie, production painting for Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (Artoo and Threepio leave the pod in the desert), January 31, 1975

Ralph McQuarrie, production painting for Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (Artoo and Threepio leave the pod in the desert), January 31, 1975

Shepard Fairey and Ernesto Yerena, Immigration Reform Now!, 2010

Shepard Fairey and Ernesto Yerena, Immigration Reform Now!, 2010

N. C. Wyeth,  “Slag was a figure for sculptors” (1918), illustration for “The Mildest-Mannered Man,” Everybody’s Magazine, 1919

N. C. Wyeth, “Slag was a figure for sculptors” (1918), illustration for “The Mildest-Mannered Man,” Everybody’s Magazine, 1919

Yinka Shonibare, Crash Willy, 2009

Yinka Shonibare, Crash Willy, 2009

Jeffrey Catherine Jones, cover for Star Hunter & Voodoo Planet, 1968

Jeffrey Catherine Jones, cover for Star Hunter & Voodoo Planet, 1968

Utagawa Kuniyoshi, Byoutsuchi Sonritsu (Sun Li), 1827-30

Utagawa Kuniyoshi, Byoutsuchi Sonritsu (Sun Li), 1827-30

Carl Spitzweg, Der Hexenmeister, 1875–80

Carl Spitzweg, Der Hexenmeister, 1875–80