Close-up pastel drawing of JFK in brown and gold tonalities.

John F. Kennedy, 1961 (detail)  by Shirley Seltzer Cooper / Pastel, 1961 / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Ted Cooper

Celebrate: John F. Kennedy

Portrait on view May 19, 2017 - July 9, 2017
First floor

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery joins the nationwide celebration of the life and legacy of President John F. Kennedy on the centennial of his birth, illuminating his contributions, policies and the challenges he faced in the wake of the civil rights era.  A pastel portrait of Kennedy by Shirley Seltzer Cooper will go on view in the museum’s “Celebrate” space May 19 through July 9.

In 1960 Kennedy, then a senator from Massachusetts, defeated opponent Richard Nixon to become the 35 and the youngest elected president. The country was entranced by his charisma, his stylish wife, Jackie and their two small children—the first young family to live in the White House since Theodore Roosevelt 60 years before. Kennedy’s agenda promised new opportunities in an age of accelerating challenges. Yet his initiatives and reforms for containing the Cold War, increasing civil rights and exploring space never came to fruition during his presidency, which was curtailed by an assassin’s bullet. Still, his legacy lives on in such programs as the Peace Corps and space exploration when, in 1969, Americans walked on the moon.

The National Portrait Gallery owns seventy-two portraits of John Kennedy, with a few of those works featured below:

 

  • Black and white  photograph of JFK as a young man

    John F. Kennedy by Philippe Halsman / 1952, Gelatin silver print / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution / © Philippe Halsman Archive

  • Black and white photo of John Kennedy leaning against a column at the Capitol

    John F. Kennedy by  Arnold A. Newman / 1953, Gelatin silver print / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, © Arnold Newman

  • Photo of a young couple (John and Jacqueline Kennedy) he is in profile, she faces the camera

    John and Jacqueline Kennedy by Yousuf Karsh / 1957, Gelatin silver print / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Estrellita Karsh in memory of Yousuf Karsh/ © Estate of Yousuf Karsh

  • Red, white and blue poster with face of a man (JFK) in the center

    Kennedy for President: Leadership for the 60's /  Unidentified Artist / c. 1960,  Color photolithographic poster with black and white halftone poster on paper / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

  • Three men in dark suits talking in a bright room

    Vice Presidential Nomination / Lyndon B. Johnson, Robert F. Kennedy and John F. Kennedy / by Jacques Lowe / July 1960 (printed 1999), Gelatin silver print / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; acquired through the generosity of Tommie L. Pegues and Donald A. Capoccia / © Jacques Lowe

    © Jacques Lowe

  • Man in a suit on a platform waving to the large crowd  below.

    Kansas: John F. Kennedy / by Jacques Lowe / 1960 (printed 1999), Gelatin silver print / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; acquired through the generosity of Tommie L. Pegues and Donald A. Capoccia / © Jacques Lowe

  • Man in a suit at a desk.  He is on the phone and rubbing his face wearily.

    Lumumba: John F. Kennedy / by Jacques Lowe, 1930 - 2001 / 1961 (printed 1999), Gelatin silver print / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; acquired through the generosity of Tommie L. Pegues and Donald A. Capoccia / © Jacques Lowe

  • Portrait in pastels of a young man (JFK)

    John F. Kennedy by Shirley Seltzer Cooper / 1961, Pastel / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Ted Cooper

  • Two men one young and one older walking in the woods.  Their backs are to the camera

    John F. Kennedy and Dwight D. Eisenhower by Paul Vathis / 1961 (printed 2007), Gelatin silver print / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of the Associated Press / © AP Images

  • Man in a suit  and tie seated in a padded rocking chair

    John F. Kennedy by William F. Draper / 1966, Oil on canvas / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution / © January 1, 1966, Margaret Draper

  • Poster with the moon and astronauts and a small photo of JFK

    Everyone's Gone to the Moon by Kenneth King / Publisher: Mainstay Music, Inc. / c. 1969,  Lithograph on paper / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

  • Collage of an astronaut, two men, a woman with long hair and other elements of the 1960s
    Signs by Robert Rauschenberg / 1970, Color screenprint / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution / © Robert Rouschenberg/Visual Artists and Galleries Association