Online Collection

"3 DIMENSIONS" signed print on canvas by artist Gregory Thornton

Object Number: 1993.013.0001
Category: Art
Type of Object: Print
Date: 1968
Dimensions: 20 1/16 × 25 7/8 in. (51 × 65.7 cm)
Limited-edition print on canvas of a painting titled "3 DIMENSIONS" by Gregory Thornton. Composition is of Senator Robert F. Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and President John F. Kennedy in full or partial profile against a black background.

At the time Thornton started this painting, Senator Robert F. Kennedy was the only one of the three men still alive. The artist painted Senator Kennedy's expression based on his reaction to learning of the assassination of Dr. King as shown in the television footage from the campaign trail. The artist stated, "I watched it as I had started the painting and I didn't stop painting till I finished 50 hours later."

The artist signed the original painting in the lower right corner in white or light gray paint in the area that would be the left shoulder of President Kennedy's suit coat. An approximate run of 10,000 prints of this painting were created for the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

The artist dedicated this print to the museum in April 1993, but his inscription misnames the museum and he calls it the "Dallas Historical Society". His inscription is written at an angle in red ballpoint ink in the white area of President Kennedy's left shirt collar. The text is as follows:

"To the Dallas Historical Society My Best Gregory Thornton 4-93"

Beneath the inscription in very small black printed text is the copyright information: "(c) 1968 Chicago".

This image is not available online larger than a thumbnail to protect the copyright of its creator(s). For a more detailed examination of this item, please schedule an appointment in the Museum’s Reading Room.
Curator's Notes

Chicago artist and political activist Gregory Thornton (1926 - 2000) completed this painting shortly after the deaths of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, basing this piece on a similar painting he had done in memory of President Kennedy in the mid-1960s (that one depicting John, Robert and Ted Kennedy in similar profile). According to Thornton's daughter, Emily Calvo, he had approximately 10,000 canvas prints of this painting made in the summer of 1968. From a booth on the floor of the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Thornton sold these canvas prints -- likely for about $10 each -- to delegates and notable individuals, including actor Paul Newman. The convention, which was marred by political demonstrations and rioting outside, ran August 26 to 29, 1968.

This canvas print in the Museum's Collection came from the original 1968 printing. Following the convention, Thornton continued selling - and giving away - his remaining stock. He sent King's widow, Coretta Scott King, a canvas print, which she acknowledged in a letter dated December 12, 1968. King wrote to Thornton: "I am grateful for all the love and compassion which people have shown me and my family since my husband's death. That he was respected and so highly regarded by so many people from all walks of life make us know that his work and sacrifice was not in vain." The original painting was purchased by an executive of Chicago-based printing and publishing company Regensteiner Press in 1968. - Stephen Fagin, Curator

Included in the Museum's temporary exhibit, "Rebel Spirits: Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr.," about how these two men, from wildly different backgrounds, were finding common ground in their activism for the poor, for civil rights and for ending the war in Vietnam. This item will be on display on the Museum's seventh floor from June 5, 2018 to September 3, 2018. - Lindsey Richardson, Curator of Collections

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