Richard Avedon’s Classic JFK Photos at the Peabody Essex Museum

ongoing- Sun. July 18

 It was truly a moment in time. The most famous fashion photographer of the 20Richard Avedon's John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedyth century, Richard Avedon, had one day  January 3, 1961 – to capture the essence of President-elect John F. Kennedy and his family through his Rolleiflexcq lens.
    Kennedy, wife Jacqueline, three-year-old daughter Caroline and two-month old son John Jr. were at the family’s oceanside villa in Palm Beach, Florida. Kennedy was on the verge of becoming the first president and Jacqueline the First Lady of a new media-savvy age. The ultimate power couple.
     Jackie had done a shoot with Avedon three years earlier and trusted Avedon’s instincts.  So, on this day – the same day Kennedy learned President Eisenhower had cut off diplomatic relations with Cuba – Avedon took 219 black-and-white photographs of the incoming First Family.  Six of those iconic photos ran in Harper’s Bazaar. It was the dawn of the Camelot myth, a sweet spot of history.
    “The Kennedys/Portrait of a Family: Photographs by Richard Avedon” is up at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem. It runs through July 18.
   The exhibit, said curator Phillip Prodger, gives “insight into that period of optimism and hope.” The series of prints and enlarged contact sheets are works Avedon “wanted us to see in sequence … and question why he chose the frame he settled upon.”

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