Elvis at 21: Photographs by Alfred Wertheimer opens at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Sunday, March 3, 2024


Elvis at 21: Photographs by Alfred Wertheimer opens at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
Leaving Richmond Train Station. After his TV performance, Elvis went to Richmond for two shows at the Mosque Theatre. Getting off the train, he turned on his RCA portable radio. Richmond, Va., June 30, 1956 © Alfred Wertheimer. All rights reserved.



RICHMOND, VA.- Fifty-six dramatic 1956 photographs of Elvis Presley on the brink of international superstardom - including intimate images taken in Richmond - are being shown in Elvis at 21 at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

The black-and-white photographs taken by Alfred Wertheimer show a baby-faced Elvis just as his career began but before he was a recognizable rock-and-roll icon.

"You'll see some extraordinary behind-the-scenes shots of Elvis just as his career was starting," VMFA Director Alex Nyerges said. "The exhibition includes images taken here in June of 1956 of Elvis leaving Richmond's train station, riding in a taxi, having breakfast at the Jefferson Hotel, eating - unrecognized - at the hotel's lunch counter, waiting backstage and performing on-stage during two shows at the Mosque, stealing a steamy kiss in a Mosque hallway."

Elvis at 21 is the first national traveling show of Wertheimer's photographs, which have been described as the stuff of music legend. Master printer David Adamson produced new pigment prints for the exhibition. Developed collaboratively by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), Govinda Gallery, and the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, the exhibition is made possible through the support of HISTORY™.

Wertheimer was hired by RCA Victor in 1956 to shoot promotional images of Elvis, who had just been signed to record for the label. Wertheimer's images provide viewers today with a look at Elvis before he exploded onto the rock-and-roll scene.

Wertheimer was given total access to Elvis on the road, backstage, in concert, in the recording studio and at home in Memphis. Shortly after Wertheimer had completed his assignment, "Colonel" Tom Parker, Elvis's manager, restricted contact with his star.

"Henri Cartier-Bresson was known for photographing what he called the 'decisive moment,' that moment when everything falls into place," says Wertheimer. "But I was more interested in the moments before or after the decisive moment."

In a recent Vanity Fair article about the exhibition, Wertheimer told Bob Colacello the details behind the steamy-kiss photograph taken at Richmond's Mosque.

Wertheimer said he lost track of Elvis backstage at one point. He then spotted him at the end of a hallway standing with a girl he had met on the train from New York. The two were in silhouette under a 50-watt bulb. Wertheimer began shooting, moving closer to the couple all the while.

"I'm on the landing,” Wertheimer said, “and she finally gets around to saying, 'And I bet you can't kiss me, Elvis.' And she sticks out her tongue, and he says, 'I bet you I can' … And he finally consummates the kiss. While all of this was going on, the other acts were onstage, and I started hearing, 'We want Elvis! We want Elvis!' So he comes out from that back area, and he's waiting in the wings to go onstage."

Wertheimer says the shot of Elvis and the young woman kissing has been described to him as "the hottest kiss ever recorded.” The young woman in the picture was recently identified as Barbara Gray, of Charleston, S.C.

On the day following the Richmond performances, Wertheimer followed Elvis back to New York City to document the recording sessions for "Don't Be Cruel" and its flip side, "Hound Dog." Both songs hit No. 1 on the charts, the only time a single record has achieved this distinction.

Wertheimer was also with Elvis after the recording session as he traveled home to Memphis by train. One image shows Elvis among a crowd surrounding a lunch vendor on a train platform during a brief stop on the 27-hour trip. The anonymity he enjoyed during this stop was short-lived. Wertheimer's photographs of Elvis's return to Memphis show a young man who now had to have a police escort to get through the crowd of fans.










Today's News

December 26, 2011

Dig for San Francisco's Transbay Transit Center unearths artifacts from the Gold Rush

Guggenheim Museum presents a focused exhibition selected from its permanent collection

Kunsthal Rotterdam presents presents a major exhibition of Egyptian mummies in the Netherlands

First major Canadian exhibition of works by van Gogh for more than 25 years to open at the National Gallery

After two years of extensive renovation work the Museum of European Cultures reopens in Berlin

Elvis at 21: Photographs by Alfred Wertheimer opens at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

20/21 International Art Fair 2012 to offer accessible prices, quality and variety

French connection with masters of French Realism highlight Art Gallery of Hamilton exhibitions

Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth presents the largest exhibition ever devoted to Richard Diebenkorn'

Landscapes that emerge from nature: Retrospective of the work of Naoya Hatakeyama at Huis Marseille

Charles M. Russell's finest watercolors to be shown at the Amon Carter Museum in February 2012

Winner of the 2010 Baloise Art Prize, Claire Hooper, exhibits at mumok in Vienna

Exhibition by American artist and architect Paul Laffoley at Hamburger Bahnhof

Nun famous for kissing Elvis prays for miracle

New tour offers glimpse of New Orleans movie sites

Folklore, fantasies, and fears featured in Andrea Dezsö's Haunted Ridgefield

Catástrofes: Exhibition containing works from the its collection opens at Artium




Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .

 



Founder:
Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

Royalville Communications, Inc
produces:

ignaciovillarreal.org juncodelavega.com facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. Hommage
to a Mexican poet.
Hommage
       

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful