Wednesday, May 2, 2012

BEFORE THEY WERE FAMOUS: Behind the Lens of William John Kennedy

reporter: Miguel Dominguez

Officially, what took place on May 1, at 109 Norfolk street in the Lower East Side, one of the two trendiest art neighborhoods in the city, was a gallery opening, but the restricted guest list at the door, which made for a small and intimate crowd inside, composed of truly interesting, cultured people, made the exhibit of Before They Were Famous: Behind the Lens of William John Kennedy seem like a get together of old friends.

Shot in the early 1960s when fine art photographer William John Kennedy and his wife, Marie, forged a friendship with Andy Warhol and Robert Indiana, this recently published collection of images capture the two artists and their most iconic works at the rise of the Pop Art Movement. Kennedy's extraordinary photographs — which lay in storage for nearly 50 years—reveal a story of the pivotal moments and players who shaped the course of American art in the second half of the 20th century, including James Rosenquist, Roy Lichtenstein, Henry Geldzahler, Dorothy Miller, Claes Oldenburg and Eleanor Ward.

Kiwi Arts Group Michael E. Huter, publisher, and creative director
Louis Canales, with New York Times writer Kirk Semple

The exhibition of more than 60 selected black and white and chromogenic photographs — which will premiere in New York City from April 19–May 29 and concurrently at the Conrad Indianapolis from April 27–May 31 — transports the viewer through a moment in time in which our cultural and political history was forever altered. Kennedy's rare and unique images offer a peek into the lives and work of Andy Warhol and Robert Indiana at the seminal point in their careers.

William John Kennedy (Glen Cove, 1930–), studied at Syracuse University, the School of Visual Arts, and Pratt Institute. After working in the 1950s as an assistant and studio manager for renowned Vogue fashion photographer Clifford Coffin, Kennedy enjoyed a rewarding career as a top freelance editorial photographer in New York City. His work appeared in publications such as LIFE Magazine and Sports Illustrated. In the commercial arena he created national and international campaigns for corporate clients including Avon, GE, IBM, RJR Nabisco, American Express, and Xerox. Throughout his professional life, Kennedy has pursued his passion for fine art photography and developed a full body of work. A selection of Kennedy's rare and newly published images premiered during Art Basel Miami Beach in 2010.

Christopher Makos and Paul Soldberg, who make up
the photo team known as The Hilton Brothers

Part of the event's fun was to be photographed as a Warhol art piece

Warhol Factory Superstar Ultra Violet flanked by
Belen Moreno Bosch and Carmine Calzonetti

Louis Canales with Kiwi Arts Group Director of Operations Jeffrey J. Wilkinson

Pilar Whitman and Kayla Santalla of the Ms. Foundation for Women,
play bookends to artist Coco 144

John Guarnieri with Louis Canales

DJ Johnny Dynell, spinning the kind of Pop music
I haven't heard in more than 40 years

No event worth its salt would do without inviting the sort of guests who are totally hell bent in bringing Glitz and Fantasy to the occassion. This time, Heidi Glum and Lani Look do the honors

Besides an exquisite Botran® Rum punch, Monterone Catering had theinspired idea of serving individual bottles
of Champagne with a straw, and what better to complement them, than handmade chocolates.

To see more photos of this event, click here

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