Dallas Museum of Art to Present Hotel Texas: An Art Exhibition for the President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy, a Reunion of Masterworks Exhibited in the Hotel Suite of the Presidential Couple

Hotel Texas Features Works by Thomas Eakins, Franz Kline,Henry Moore, Pablo Picasso, and Vincent van Gogh, Among Others

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 to Texas 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 reunites 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 will also reveal for the first time the complete story of the presidential Suite 850 installation, which was 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.

“This exhibition provides an unprecedented opportunity to rediscover the Kennedys’ time in Texas, prior to the untimely death of the president, and to enhance our understanding of how the president and first lady were perceived at that point in history,” said Maxwell L. Anderson, The Eugene McDermott Director of the Dallas Museum of Art. “The organization of an art exhibition for the couple was a testament to their appreciation for the arts.  It also underscored the cultural advocacy of the leaders of Fort Worth and Dallas.”

“It was important for the Amon Carter to be a part of this project because of the museum’s close ties to the original art exhibition assembled for President and Mrs. Kennedy,” said Andrew J. Walker, Director of the Amon Carter Museum of American Art. “In light of our community’s passion for the arts, including the museum’s board president Ruth Carter Stevenson, the couple enjoyed a first-class art experience during their stay in Fort Worth. We hope our visitors will use this opportunity not only to appreciate these masterpieces but to reflect on the Kennedys’ lasting legacy on the arts.”

“In reuniting these works of art and unveiling this story, we hope to inspire some historical reflection about the Kennedys’ impact on the arts and the significance of providing them a space complete with such a wide-ranging group of masterworks,” said Olivier Meslay, Associate Director of Curatorial Affairs at the Dallas Museum of Art and curator of the exhibition. “Our presentation includes new scholarship surrounding the original installation and helps further celebrate the Kennedys’ impact on American culture.”  

Five days prior to the presidential couple’s arrival in Fort Worth, descriptions of the presidential suite at the Texas Hotel 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 (later, 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; 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.

Listening Hard — Remembering JFK on Record, on view in the C3 Theater throughout the run of the exhibition, is an audio and video installation produced by Alan Govenar in collaboration with Hotel Texas: An Art Exhibition for the President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy. Visitors will be able to listen to songs released in the days and months following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy that memorialize him, including blues, corridos, calypso, gospel, country. In the video, an iconic portrait of President Kennedy slowly dissolves into images of the record labels or album jackets of those songs. Govenar will give a talk on his project during the July Late Night on Friday, July 19.

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 is 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, retired Fort Worth Star-Telegram journalist; 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 exhibition in Dallas is presented by Citi Private Bank. Air transportation is provided by American Airlines.

Images (left to right): Lyonel Feininger, Manhattan II, 1940, oil on Canvas, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Anonymous Gift, © Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn; President Kennedy speaks to the crowd outside the Hotel Texas in Fort Worth, Texas, November 22, 1963., William Allen, photographer/Dallas Times Herald Collection, Courtesy of The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza; Pablo Picasso, Angry Owl, 1951 – 1953, bronze, Pablo Picasso © 2012 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, Collection of Gwendolyn Weiner

About the Dallas Museum of Art
Established in 1903, the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) ranks among the leading art institutions in the country and is distinguished by its innovative exhibitions and groundbreaking educational programs. At the heart of the Museum and its programs is its global collection, which encompasses more than 22,000 works and spans 5,000 years of history, representing a full range of world cultures. Located in the vibrant Arts District of downtown Dallas, the Museum welcomes more than half a million visitors annually and acts as a catalyst for community creativity, engaging people of all ages and backgrounds with a diverse spectrum of programming, from exhibitions and lectures to concerts, literary events, and dramatic and dance presentations. In January 2013, the DMA returned to a free general admission policy, and launched DMA Friends, the first free museum membership program in the country.

The Dallas Museum of Art is supported, in part, by the generosity of DMA Partners and donors, the citizens of Dallas through the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, and the Texas Commission on the Arts.

About the Amon Carter Museum of American Art
The Amon Carter Museum of American Art was founded in 1961, fulfilling Amon G. Carter’s (1879–1955) desire to establish a museum, free and open to the public, to display his collection of art by Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell. During the ensuing decades, the Amon Carter’s holdings expanded to include a broad array of American art, and today the museum houses more than 200,000 objects. The museum’s research library offers over 14,000 items supporting the study of American art and history. For more information, visit

www.cartermuseum.org.

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For more information, please contact:
Jill Bernstein
Dallas Museum of Art
214-922-1802
JBernstein@DMA.org