JFK, Elvis, and Vanity Fair

by Chris Murray on October 31, 2013

The November issue of Vanity Fair has an excellent story by James Wolcott about the “avalanche of books” marking the 50th anniversary of J.F.K.’s assassination on November 22, 1963. Wolcott refers to Kennedy’s untimely death as “one of those unifying, defining moments when everyone alive remembers where they were when the news struck, shattering the glass wall separating before and after.” Wolcott was in sixth grade at the time and said that “for kids my age, it was like losing a father.”

Lowe 600ppi Diner, Oregon 1959, Copyright © Jacques Lowe. All Rights Reserved.
Of the many books being published Wolcott singles out The Kennedy Years, a photographic memoir featuring intimate photos of the president and the Kennedy family by Jacques Lowe. Wolcott calls J.F.K. “the first Pop President, the man for who the word ‘charisma’ might have been christened.” It was interesting to note Wolcott refer to Jacques Lowe’s photos of Kennedy as capturing “a pivotal moment in the juicing of the American Dream machine akin to the epochal turn covered in Alfred Wertheimer’s Elvis 1956.” I had the pleasure of editing Elvis 1956 (Welcome Books) as a catalog for the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service/Govinda Gallery tour of Alfred Wertheimer’s photographs of the charismatic Elvis Presley when he was 21 years old. Govinda Gallery hosted Jacques Lowe’s first exhibition of his Kennedy photos in May 1998, “J.F.K. Remembered” along with the first exhibition of Alfred Wertheimer’s photographs in November 1998 “Elvis ’56”.

elvis1956_pp-1-128_july15231 Grilled Cheese 20 Cents, Richmond, VA 1956, Copyright © Alfred Wertheimer. All Rights Reserved.

lowewertheimer-book

Doubleday has just published Critical Mass: Four Decades of Essays, Reviews, Hand Grenades, and Hurrahs, James Wolcott’s career-spanning anthology.

Jacques Lowe and Alfred Wertheimer’s photographs are available through Govinda Gallery.

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