June 5 – September 3, 2018
Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. were born worlds apart—culturally, geographically, racially, financially and politically—but by the time they were killed within months of each another in 1968, their worlds had come together through shared interests in civil rights, poverty and opposing the war in Vietnam.
This unprecedented exhibit explores their overlapping paths through images taken by some of the era’s most renowned photojournalists, including Bob Adelman, Danny Lyon, Henri Dauman, Jacques Lowe, Spider Martin, Steve Schapiro, Lawrence Schiller and Paul Schutzer. The exhibit is supplemented by a curated selection of artifacts from the Museum’s collections.
Rebel Spirits: Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. was produced by Wiener Schiller Productions and is presented locally by The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza. The exhibition was curated by Lawrence Schiller with support from Getty Images.
Header photos, Lawrence Schiller (courtesy Lawrence Schiller Archives), 1965 and 1968
At first glance, the images appear to be single, oversized black and white portraits of President John F. Kennedy and his wife, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy. Upon closer examination, the magic of artist Alex Guofeng Cao is revealed as thousands and thousands of smaller images that make up each portrait become visible. Cao, a New-York based artist known for his large-scale portraits of famous figures, donated the two 9’ x 6’ portraits of President and Mrs. Kennedy to The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza.Called photomosaics, each pixel within the portrait is a much smaller picture of another figure – someone important to or associated with the main figure. The portrait of President Kennedy, titled JFK vs Jackie, 2010, is made up of 50,000 smaller portraits of Jacqueline Kennedy. Jackie vs JFK II, 2010 likewise creates Mrs. Kennedy through 50,000 tiny portraits of her husband.Cao says the titles of the pieces don’t imply that the subjects are adversaries, but rather indicate a relationship. In the artist’s words, the pixels and the portrait within one piece speak to each other, using the biography of one person to create a dialogue with the historic background of another. Both photomosaics contain intriguing surprises, as well. The portrait of President Kennedy includes five pixels of different images among the 50,000, representing important figures and dates in the president’s life. Mrs. Kennedy’s portrait has three different images, also representing important figures and dates in her life.
Alex Guofeng Cao
Born in China and educated in the United States, Cao started his career in commercial photography. His current work is influenced by a longtime interest in history, as well as the pop art movement. His works use some of the most recognizable faces of the 20th century such as Abraham Lincoln, Andy Warhol, Marilyn Monroe and Gandhi.