In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the Dallas Museum of Art will bring together the works of art installed in the president’s suite at the Hotel Texas during his fateful trip 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 will reunite 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: An Art Exhibition for the President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy will also reveal for the first time the complete story of the presidential Suite 850 installation, which had been 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 will bring 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.
Five days prior to the presidential couple’s arrival in Fort Worth, descriptions of the presidential suite at the Hotel Texas 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 (now 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; Vincent 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.
Hotel Texas: An Art Exhibition for the President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy is organized by the Dallas Museum of Art, in association with the Amon Carter Museum of American Art. In addition, the Sixth Floor Museum will provide films and documentation of the president’s trip to Texas in 1963. The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue, published in association with Yale University Press. It begins with an introductory essay by Olivier Meslay titled “Art Is Not a Form of Propaganda, It Is a Form of Truth,” and includes contributions from Scott Grant Barker, Texas art historian; David Lubin, Charlotte C. Weber Professor of Art at Wake Forest University and author of the much-lauded Shooting Kennedy: JFK and the Culture of Images; and Alexander Nemerov, Professor of Art and Art History at Stanford University.
The New York Times
“Girding for Anniversary of Tragedy in Dallas”
November 25, 2012
“Las obras de arte que disfrutó JFK el día de su muerte”
September 28, 2012
The Washington Post
“Exhibit reunites masterworks Kennedys saw in their hotel suite before JFK’s assassination”
September 19, 2012