James Baldwin by Robert Adelman

Politics, Race, Celebrity: Photographs from the Esquire Collection

Larry & Barbara Marshall Family Balcony, 404

In December 1980, 26 large metal storage cases containing copy and artwork from Esquire magazine arrived at the University of Kansas. Selections from this material are now part of the Spencer Museum's collection. Esquire, which billed itself as "the magazine for men," featured topical and thematic stories often accompanied with photographs of considerable political and cultural interest. This exhibition shares original photographs of trenchant, surprising, and memorable moments captured by Esquire photographers.

The time period represented through the Esquire collection coincides with monumental events in American history, including 1960s counterculture, the Watergate scandal, the Civil Rights Movement, and second-wave feminism. Each photograph in this exhibition depicts individuals or gatherings of enduring fame or infamy, from James Baldwin to Janis Joplin to Richard Nixon, and from trendy club scenes to police altercations. This exhibition situates photographs from Esquire in dialogue with concurrent cultural and historical movements and explores the relationship between the photographs and the ways they appeared in the pages of Esquire magazine.

This exhibition is supported by the Lee F. Young Esquire Collection Fund. 


Selected images