Capturing Camelot: Stanley Tretick's Iconic Images of the Kennedys

Kitty Kelley, photos by Stanley Tretick. St. Martin's/Dunne, $29.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-312-64342-3
Tretick's achievement is the masterful construction of legend through careful framing and omission—and teamwork with his subjects. Indeed JFK choreographed much of this work himself. Captions and text by famed biographer Kelley (Oprah: A Biography) tell how the future president worked diligently to delete silliness and emotional excess from the campaign-trail public record, quickly removing an Indian headdress, for example, or avoiding the lens while eating and eschewing overt affection toward his wife. As a result, when JFK's more candid expressions of worry and joy poke through in Tretick's photos, they prove startling still. Photographer and subject figured out early how to surround Kennedy with children, of whom there were plenty. The effort to soften and humanize the president reaches its apex in the famous image of John Jr. playing under his father's Oval Office desk. Indeed, Tretick spoke openly of his desire to accede to "the family's wishes," proudly reproducing thank-you notes from the proto-royals and admitting matriarch Rose's dissatisfaction with a shot of brother Bobby atop NFL star Rosy Grier's shoulders at a rowdy party. The opposite of Goldin and Avedon's warts-and-all images, Tretick's work is a noteworthy example of unapologetically romantic American portraiture. Agent: WSK Management. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 08/20/2012
Release date: 11/13/2012
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