Hotel Texas An Art Exhibition for the President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy Olivier Meslay, Scott Barker, David M. Lubin, Alexander Nemerov, Nicola Longford

Publication date:
18 Jun 2013
Dallas Museum of Art
112 pages: 267 x 216mm
120 color + b-w illus.
Sales territories:

The story of a bittersweet, impromptu art exhibition for President and Mrs. Kennedy

The events associated with John F. Kennedy’s death are etched into our nation’s memory. This fascinating book tells a less familiar part of the story, about a special art exhibition organized by a group of Fort Worth citizens. On November 21, 1963, the Kennedys arrived in Fort Worth around midnight, making their way to Suite 850 of the Hotel Texas. There, installed in their honor, was an intimate exhibition that included works by Monet, Van Gogh, Marin, Eakins, Feininger, and Picasso. Due to the late hour, it was not until the following morning that the couple viewed the exhibition and phoned one of the principal organizers, Ruth Carter Johnson, to offer thanks. Mrs. Kennedy indicated that she wished she could stay longer to admire the beautiful works. The couple was due to depart for Dallas, and the rest is history.

This volume reunites the works in this exhibition for the first time and features some previously unpublished images of the hotel room. Essays examine this exhibition from several angles: anecdotal, analytical, cultural, and historical, and include discussions of what the local citizens wished to convey to their distinguished viewers.

Olivier Meslay is associate director of curatorial affairs at the Dallas Museum of Art. Scott Grant Barker is a cultural historian who specializes in the art history of the city of Fort Worth. David Lubin is the Charlotte C. Weber Professor of Art at Wake Forest University. Alexander Nemerov is the Carl and Marilynn Thoma Provostial Professor in the Arts and Humanities at Stanford University.

Hotel Texas offers a rewarding aesthetic experience, as well as a history lesson.”—Clare Griffiths, Times Literary Supplement

“[a] fascinating book.”—Martin Filler, New York Review of Books

“Given today's astronomical art prices and insurance costs, as well as increasingly restrictive standards for the handling and display of art, it's unlikely that even local collector-philanthropist Ruth Carter Johnson (later Stevenson). . . and her art friends would today be able to put together a hotel room display of this quality. But they rose to the challenge, and the cultural elite of Fort Worth were presumably also making a statement about their place in the city's longstanding competition with Dallas. That rivalry, as well as that moment in time at that place, are explored in several excellent essays by Olivier Meslay, David M. Lubin and others in the exhibition catalog.”—Wall Street Journal