NEW-YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY COMMEMORATES THE LIFE OF
PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY DURING HIS CENTENNIAL YEAR
American Visionary: John F. Kennedy’s Life and Times
On View June 23, 2017 – January 7, 2018
PRESS PREVIEW: June 21, 2017, 10 am
NEW YORK, NY (May 31, 2017) – A new exhibition commemorating President John F. Kennedy’s private life and public trajectory will be 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.”
The new book, JFK: A Vision for America, features essays by historians, leading political thinkers, writers, and artists alongside Kennedy’s greatest speeches. The book presents Kennedy at his best—thought-provoking, inspiring, eloquent, and wise—on a number of wide-ranging topics, including civil rights, the race to the moon, the environment, immigration, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and more. The book demonstrates the deep relevance of his words today and his lasting power and influence as an American leader and orator. A Vision for America is edited by Stephen Kennedy Smith and Douglas Brinkley, professor of history at Rice University; it is published by HarperCollins and will be available for purchase at the NYHistory Store ($45).
On Tuesday, July 18, Stephen Kennedy Smith will introduce a special free screening of PT 109. Cliff Robertson stars in this stirring saga of JFK’s wartime exploits as skipper of a PT boat in the Solomon Islands.
American Visionary: John F. Kennedy’s Life and Times is presented by New-York Historical Society and Wiener Schiller Productions in cooperation with the John F. Kennedy Library and Foundation. Generous support for the exhibition has been provided by the Governance Institute and the Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation. Additional support has been provided by Stephen Kennedy Smith and Getty Images.
Exhibitions at the New-York Historical Society are made possible by Dr. Agnes Hsu-Tang and Oscar Tang, the Saunders Trust for American History, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. WNET is the media sponsor.
About the New-York Historical Society
The New-York Historical Society, one of America’s preeminent cultural institutions, is dedicated to fostering research and presenting history and art exhibitions and public programs that reveal the dynamism of history and its influence on the world of today. Founded in 1804, New-York Historical has a mission to explore the richly layered history of New York City and State and the country, and to serve as a national forum for the discussion of issues surrounding the making and meaning of history.
Image Credit: With daughter Caroline, Georgetown, Washington, D.C., March 25, 1958. Ed Clark, (Courtesy The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)