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