To commemorate the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Westwood Gallery NYC in Manhattan’s SoHo is presenting "My Kennedy Years: Curated by James Cavello." Jacques Lowe, the photojournalist behind the amazing images, was Kennedy’s official photographer, working with the leader from 1958 to 1962.
Lowe was given unlimited access to the president, a dream for most photographers. In that time, he was able to capture moments of hope, elation, contemplation and love, while following Kennedy through his election campaign, his presidency and even the intimate moments Kennedy shared with his wife Jackie and daughter, Caroline.
Lowe captured some 40,000 photographs, but sadly, most of them have been destroyed. He had kept the negatives of his work, including his Kennedy photos, in a fireproof bank vault near the World Trade Center towers that were later destroyed during the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. It was later discovered that 180 negatives had been removed from the archives for printing. Along with prints that had been made, they are all that remain of Lowe’s documentation of Kennedy.
This made Cavello’s job as curator even harder when he went to Lowe’s estate to try and find what he could so the story of Kennedy through Lowe's lense could be told. From there, Cavello was able to hand select 50 photographs for this exhibition.
From a humble snap of JFK and his wife eating dinner, to a moment of elation speaking to thousands of people, the exhibition tells the story of John F. Kennedy with intimate detail. It was important to Cavello to show the tender moments between Kennedy and Jackie, from dancing in an elegant ballroom to cradling Caroline, who is seen lovingly chewing on Jackie’s pearls in a stunning family portrait.
To the naked eye, one may think twice before assuming that these photographs were actual moments frozen in time. From the perfect composition, million-dollar smiles and lighting, you could easily think the photos were intended to be on the front cover of a magazine. But these images were casually captured by Lowe, who did not direct the Kennedy family to pose, but was there to document what he witnessed in the four years he worked as the president’s photographer.
Jacques Lowe died in his Manhattan home in 2001, but James Cavello, who knew the photographer, revealed that Lowe would be pleased to see his work return to life. Visitors can expect to get a unique story of the president, in the Oval Office and in his own own backyard. What you may learn is that JFK, a man with the weight of the world on his shoulders, is portrayed as a happy person, smiling in virtually every magical photograph.