July 10, 2010 – October 10, 2010

In 1956, Alfred Wertheimer (1929- ) photographed a young and still relatively unknown Elvis Presley. Wertheimer’s images, taken before record-setting singles, broadcast specials, and hyped Hollywood films, reveal a rock ‘n’ roll legend on the verge of superstardom.

Elvis at 21: Photographs by Alfred Werthimer presented 56 striking images capturing unguarded moments in Elvis’s life during 1956, the year the singer catapulted from anonymity to acclaim. From backstage to onstage, from piano benches to Harleys, from on-the-road to screaming fans, these 36 x 48” pigment prints radiate a richness and depth that make the star’s road to fame palpable. With cinematic luminosity, the Wertheimer photographs document a remarkable time when twenty-one-year-old Elvis Presley could sit alone, unrecognized at a drugstore lunch counter. What is so remarkable about Wertheimer’s documentary portraits of Elvis is how fresh and contemporary the pictures still seem, utterly unlike any other portraits of this endlessly scrutinized figure.

The exhibition was developed by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, and the Govinda Gallery of Washington, DC. Elvis at 21 is sponsored nationally by HISTORY™. The exhibition’s display at the MSV was sponsored by 92.5 WINC FM.

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