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Dallas Museum of Art opens Hotel Texas: An Art Exhibition for the President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy
This Nov. 22, 1963 photo provided by Amon Carter Museum of American Art Archives shows the paintings Thomas Eakins', Swimming and Charles M. Russell's, Lost in a Snowstorm in Suite 850 at the Hotel Texas, in Fort Worth, Texas. An exhibit opening next year at the Dallas Museum of Art will feature almost all of the works of art gathered from museums and prominent Fort Worth citizens for the hotel suite John F. Kennedy and first lady Jacqueline Kennedy stayed in the night before he was assassinated. Photo: Amon Carter Museum of American Art Archives, Byron Scott.
DALLAS, TX.- In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the Dallas Museum of Art has brought together the works of art installed in the president’s suite at the Hotel Texas during his fateful trip to Texas in 1963. The original installation, orchestrated by a small group of Fort Worth art collectors, was created especially for the president and first lady in celebration of their overnight visit to the city and included paintings by Vincent van Gogh, Thomas Eakins, Lyonel Feininger, Franz Kline, and Marsden Hartley, and sculptures by Pablo Picasso and Henry Moore, among others.

On view from May 26 through September 15, 2013, Hotel Texas: An Art Exhibition for the President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy reunites the paintings, sculptures, and works on paper for the first time in their original gathering, highlighting the diverse and thoughtful installation of artworks brought together for the presidential couple. The exhibition is presented in association with the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth, where it will be on view October 12, 2013, through January 12, 2014. Hotel Texas reveals for the first time the complete story of the presidential Suite 850 installation, which was overshadowed by the president’s tragic death, and examine the significance of art both to the Kennedys and to the Dallas–Fort Worth communities. Additionally, it brings to light related materials, most of which have remained in private collections since 1963, including photographs, videos, and other archival materials, ranging from images of the suite prior to the couple’s arrival to documentation relating to the president’s assassination.

“This exhibition provides an unprecedented opportunity to rediscover the Kennedys’ time in Texas, prior to the untimely death of the president, and to enhance our understanding of how the president and first lady were perceived at that point in history,” said Maxwell L. Anderson, The Eugene McDermott Director of the Dallas Museum of Art. “The organization of an art exhibition for the couple was a testament to their appreciation for the arts. It also underscored the cultural advocacy of the leaders of Fort Worth and Dallas.”

“It was important for the Amon Carter to be a part of this project because of the museum’s close ties to the original art exhibition assembled for President and Mrs. Kennedy,” said Andrew J. Walker, Director of the Amon Carter Museum of American Art. “In light of our community’s passion for the arts, including the museum’s board president Ruth Carter Stevenson, the couple enjoyed a first-class art experience during their stay in Fort Worth. We hope our visitors will use this opportunity not only to appreciate these masterpieces but to reflect on the Kennedys’ lasting legacy on the arts.”

“In reuniting these works of art and unveiling this story, we hope to inspire some historical reflection about the Kennedys’ impact on the arts and the significance of providing them a space complete with such a wide-ranging group of masterworks,” said Olivier Meslay, Associate Director of Curatorial Affairs at the Dallas Museum of Art and curator of the exhibition. “Our presentation includes new scholarship surrounding the original installation and helps further celebrate the Kennedys’ impact on American culture.”

Five days prior to the presidential couple’s arrival in Fort Worth, descriptions of the presidential suite at the Texas Hotel were released to the public. Unhappy with the couple’s accommodations, Owen Day, the art critic for the Fort Worth Press, proposed the idea of the installation to prominent art collector and leader of the Fort Worth Art Association Samuel Benton Cantey III. With the support of Ruth Carter Johnson (later, Ruth Carter Stevenson), board president for the Amon Carter Museum of American Art; collector Ted Weiner; and Mitchell Wilder, the Amon Carter Director, Cantey conceived a three-part exhibition that would unfold in the parlor, master bedroom, and second bedroom of Suite 850. Drawing on local private and public art collections, each room of the suite was outfitted with works of art that befitted the tastes and interests of President Kennedy and the first lady:

• The Parlor featured the work of impressionist painter Claude Monet, alongside works of modern sculpture and painting, including a bronze sculpture, Angry Owl, by Picasso, 1951–53; an oil painting of Manhattan by American expressionist Lyonel Feininger, 1940; an oil on paper study by Franz Kline, 1954; and a bronze sculpture by Henry Moore, 1939–40.

• The Master Bedroom, which was designated as Jacqueline Kennedy’s bedroom, was adorned with impressionist masterworks, per her well-known affinity for the genre. The room included Summer Day in the Park, 1918–23, by Maurice Brazil Prendergast; van Gogh’s Road with Peasant Shouldering a Spade, 1887; John Marin’s watercolor Sea and Rocks, 1919; and Bassin de Deauville, an oil on canvas by Raoul Dufy.

• The Second Bedroom, the president’s room, featured late 19th-century and early 20th-century American art, including Thomas Eakins’ Swimming, 1884–85; Marsden Hartley’s Sombrero with Gloves, 1936; and Charles Marion Russell’s Lost in a Snowstorm, 1888; among others.

Listening Hard — Remembering JFK on Record, on view in the C3 Theater throughout the run of the exhibition, is an audio and video installation produced by Alan Govenar in collaboration with Hotel Texas: An Art Exhibition for the President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy. Visitors are able to listen to songs released in the days and months following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy that memorialize him, including blues, corridos, calypso, gospel, country. In the video, an iconic portrait of President Kennedy slowly dissolves into images of the record labels or album jackets of those songs.





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