By Carol Tannenhauser
Viewing the new photographic exhibition at the New-York Historical Society, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, is like stepping into an issue of Life magazine in the 1960s, the golden age of photojournalism.
“That was the concept,” said Lawrence Schiller, the revered photographer, filmmaker, and author, who contributed several images and curated the show, along with Cristian Panaite and Marilyn Kushner. Schiller photographed King for many years and Kennedy for the last 40 days of his life. Combined with the work of some of the most renowned photojournalists of the era, the result is “a photographic essay in a museum that takes you step by step through their lives, designed so you have an intimate experience,” Schiller said.
Oddly, in the entire show, there is only one picture of King and Kennedy together (seen below). “That’s not an accident,”, said David Margolick, author of The Promise and the Dream, upon which the exhibition is partly based. “These were two people who were very careful with one another, who were very wary of each other, who fenced with each other throughout the eight years that they were both on the national stage.”
The exhibition intersperses the trajectories of their lives against the background of one of the most socially active and violent periods of American history. Iconic images — Rosa Parks’ defiance, a burning cross, hooded Klansmen, freedom riders, adoring masses, mourning — as well as documents and artifacts, bring back the era powerfully.
Rebel Spirits: Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. will be on view through May 20, 2018.
The New-York Historical Society is located on Central Park West between 77th and 78th Streets.
Tuesday-Thursday, Saturday – 10am-6pm
Friday – 10am-8pm
Sunday – 11am-5pm
Monday – CLOSED