News Photos of JFK Assassination on Display

Posted November 12, 2003 at 3:13pm

Far from elegant, the banning+Low gallery is every bit as American vintage as the photographs of the events surrounding the assassination of former President John F. Kennedy Jr. “Four Days in November,” an exhibition of the collection that will premiere Friday, is timed to coincide with the 40th anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination.

The 37 Associated Press transmission photographs in the exhibit are first-generation facsimile transmission press photographs, the kind used by AP to generate copy prints to newspapers and magazines around the world. The photos, on now-yellowed paper, are worth $900 to $2,200, but the events depicted are those that caused America to mourn.

“I was awed [by the photos],” gallery owner John Low said of when he first viewed the collection. “Not only because of the quality of the images and how well they’ve been maintained, but so flattered that I had the opportunity to show them.”

Images include the motorcade at the moment of impact, the president being sped to the hospital followed by Secret Service agents, Lee Harvey Oswald under arrest, and several prints of first lady Jacqueline Kennedy and her children, Caroline and John Jr., in mourning.

“Four Days in November” will be the first time that the collection has been shown publicly, although prints have been acquired by various museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Chrysler Collection. The prints displayed at the show do not represent the complete collection — the owner, a “wealthy private collector in New York,” has retained about 40 photos, Low said.

The collector, whose name Low will not divulge because of business policy, is a friend of Low’s father, 30-year New York gallery owner Jack Banning.

“There are four to five galleries in New York who would have jumped at the chance” to show the photos, Low said. “I wish I could say [I have this collection] because I’m sophisticated, but I was really very fortunate.”

The pair opened banning+Low just two months ago in an 18th century-era grocery story at 3730 Howard Ave. in Kensington, Md. The quaint exterior of the building is painted bright yellow with blue and red trim and has a warped door that sticks. The floor inside is uneven, as is the ceiling, and painted plainly in gray. The startlingly white walls set off the collection, which is framed in black.

Besides vintage photographs, Low deals political memorabilia — buttons, posters and books to name a few — and really, anything truly American.

“Everything we offer is vintage — it might be vintage 1995, but it’s the original,” Low said. “The idea is that it’s absolutely American.”

“Four Days in November” will be available for viewing and purchasing until Dec. 24. The gallery is open from noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, with extended hours on Thursday and Saturday. For more information, contact Low at (301) 933-0700.