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New-York Historical Society exhibition commemorates President John F. Kennedy
The First Couple head to the inauguration ceremony, Washington, D.C., January 20, 1961. Photo: Paul Schutzer. Courtesy The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images.


NEW YORK, NY.- A new exhibition commemorating President John F. Kennedy’s private life and public trajectory is on view at the New-York Historical Society, June 23, 2017 - January 7, 2018. The exhibition, one of the most exhaustively researched collections of Kennedy photos ever assembled, brings together images from the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, Getty Images, private collections, and the Kennedy family archives that capture public and private moments from Kennedy’s life. Some of the photographs on display are iconic; others have rarely been seen.

New-York Historical’s presentation of American Visionary is part of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum’s year-long, nationwide celebration that commemorates Kennedy’s centennial year. Also currently on view at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C., through September 17, the exhibition will travel extensively across the United States in the coming years. Based on the new book JFK: A Vision for America by Stephen Kennedy Smith and Douglas Brinkley, the exhibition is organized and curated by Lawrence Schiller of Wiener Schiller Productions and Marilyn Satin Kushner, curator and head, Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections at the New-York Historical Society.

“We are honored to commemorate the centennial of John F. Kennedy’s birth with this powerful and important exhibition,” said Dr. Louise Mirrer, president and CEO of the New-York Historical Society. “A cornerstone of New-York Historical’s Presidency Project, the photographs in this show are central to our work engaging the public in a consideration of qualities that contribute to the success of an American president. A visionary leader on the international stage as well as an American icon, President Kennedy, as these photographs make clear, left an indelible imprint on our sense of what and how an American president should be. The very timely chance this exhibition gives to understand President Kennedy’s private life as well as political career makes it unique and uniquely-suited for contemporary debate and discussion of American leadership.”

Kennedy’s administration coincided with a golden age of photojournalism in America. No single politician was photographed more than Kennedy—from his first congressional bid as a decorated war hero in 1946 and his fairy-tale wedding to Jacqueline Bouvier in 1953 to his run for the White House in 1960 and the tragedy of his death in Dallas in 1963. Documentary photographers such as Ed Clark, Lisl Steiner, Ralph Crane, Philippe Halsman, Ted Spiegel Jacques Lowe, Lawrence Schiller, Steve Schapiro, and Sam Vestal captured the optimism and challenges of the early 1960s in some of the finest and most vivid images of the period.

Highlights of American Visionary include images from Kennedy’s private life—such as a 1953 photo booth snapshot of the Kennedy newlyweds, possibly taken on their honeymoon, and a candid 1958 photograph by Ed Clark of Kennedy playing with his baby daughter Caroline in her bassinet. Images of Kennedy the politician include a 1957 portrait when he served as a Massachusetts senator by Philippe Halsman; a 1960 photograph of Kennedy drawing an unintended audience of young people peering through the window as he prepares for a presidential campaign speech in Baltimore; and a 1961 photograph of the First Couple and others heading to Kennedy’s inauguration ceremony, with the White House blanketed in snow. Also featured are unforgettable images such as Jacques Lowe’s 1961 photograph of Kennedy standing hunched over his desk in the Oval Office, in an effort to alleviate the pain from his problem back, and a haunting photograph of the shattered First Lady departing the White House on the day of Kennedy’s state funeral in 1963, captured by I.C. Rapoport as a brief glimpse through the crowd.

“John F. Kennedy is still seen as a symbol around the world, representing and espousing the best and most universal elements of the American character,” said Stephen Kennedy Smith, Kennedy’s nephew and co-editor of JFK: A Vision for America. “It is our hope that the compelling images of President Kennedy’s life and work on view in this exhibition will remind visitors not only of the values that defined his presidency, but also will introduce him to new audiences and future leaders.”






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