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For the first time, complete access has been granted to the Mark Shaw Photographic Archive. Reel Art Press expands Shaw’s classic 1964 work, The John F. Kennedys: A Family Album.

Mark Shaw first met the charismatic young Massachusetts Senator and his elegant wife in 1959 when he photographed them for Life magazine. A close friendship and bond developed which allowed him extraordinary and informal access to the Kennedy family.

During the following four years, Shaw captured them at their most relaxed: in Nantucket, Hyannis Port, Jacqueline's family home in Merrywood, Virginia and on The Amalfi Coast with the Agnellis. On the campaign trail in West Virginia, where they felt overwhelmed by kindness, pre-White House at their first proper family home in Georgetown and at the star-studded inauguration gala.

Among the most memorable photographs must be the image that was JFK’s personal favourite; the photograph he told his family and friends he liked best. Perhaps somewhat poignantly, as the 60th anniversary of the assassination approaches, it is the image of Kennedy walking alone in the sand dunes at Hyannis Port which resonates, alongside a later iconic and moving image of the rider-less horse and the fallen leader’s reversed riding boots.

Shaw had earlier taken a series of natural, exuberant photographs of Jacqueline and John John and her personal note to thank him conveys just how much they meant to her, as she compared Shaw to a modern day Caravaggio and vowed to treasure them always.

No doubt she did just that. So many unseen images in this stunning 288-page book capture Jacqueline Kennedy carefree, barefoot, laughing and playing on the beach or in the house with her children. Accompanying text from the Special Agent assigned to protect Jacqueline, Clint Hill, opens a section dedicated to the ‘fifty mile hike’, which was the result of a wager between President Kennedy and his closest friends. There are some surprises here too, as few photographs of the infamous Dr. Feelgood have survived, but it is perhaps the sombre photographs from a rainy November evening that will haunt the reader.

Mark Shaw was one of the greatest fashion and editorial photographers of the 1950s and 1960s, renowned for his photographs of the Kennedys and for his fashion work. He was the first photographer to shoot backstage and in colour at the couture shows and his Vanity Fair lingerie campaign remains landmark.

La Lettre de la Photographie

20 Sep, 2012

Editors