George Lucas to share his art collection at proposed gallery

Mark Deming
Movie Talk

You’re a retiree with a nice nest egg and some time on your hands, so what do you do with yourself? If you’re George Lucas, you open an art museum.

In an interview with “CBS This Morning,” Lucas, the man behind the “Star Wars” empire (who recently sold Lucasfilm Ltd. to Disney for a reported $4 billion), discussed his plans to open a gallery in his native San Francisco. Lucas’s gallery would highlight pieces from his extensive collection of fine art, illustrations, comic art, and other works. “There is a world of young people who need to be inspired,”
Lucas said.

During his “This Morning” interview, Lucas showed off lots of production artwork and costumes from the “Star Wars” movies that could potentially be on display, but that won’t be the primary focus of the gallery.

“I want to create a gathering place where children, parents, and grandparents can experience everything from the great illustrators such as (Norman) Rockwell, N.C. Wyeth and Maxfield Parrish, to comic art and children’s book illustrations along with exhibitions of fashion, cinematic arts, and digital art,” Lucas said. “The Bay Area was the birthplace of digital arts three decades ago.”

Launching a museum is no whim for Lucas – he says he’s been making plans for the gallery for three years, and has submitted a proposal for “The Lucas Cultural Arts Museum” to the Presidio Trust, who oversees the urban national park that overlooks the San Francisco bay.
The Trust is currently looking to fill a spot that was once the commissary at the former military base. Of course, if Lucas has to look elsewhere, he can probably afford some Northern California real estate.

According to Lucas, he had dreams of being an illustration artist as a youngster, though his dad put a stop to such plans, and he began his collection while in college, buying a page of original artwork from a Scrooge McDuck comic book. As Lucas became more successful, his personal collection quickly grew; as he puts it, “I buy what I love.”

Folk who enjoy the edgier side of contemporary art might not find much to their liking at the Lucas Museum, given the owner’s taste for romanticized and often sentimental images. Not that Lucas is worried about that. “You either look at the world through cynical eyes or through idealistic eyes," Lucas said. “I don't see anything wrong with having an idealistic, sentimental, fun point of view.”

According to the “This Morning” report, Lucas’s collection is sizable enough that he’ll be able to feature entirely new displays every six months for six years before he’ll have to start reaching out to other collectors. One of them might just be Steven Spielberg; he’s also a collector of original Norman Rockwell paintings, and both Spielberg and Lucas donated paintings by the iconic illustrator for a 2010 show at the Smithsonian American Art Museum called “Telling Stories.”