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7 December 2013 – 10 March 2014
$15 / $12 Circle of Friends and concessions
Under 18s free

Elvis at 21, Photographs by Alfred Wertheimer is a photographic exhibition capturing Elvis' rise to fame in the year 1956, before security and money built walls between him and his fans.

Photojournalist Alfred Wertheimer was hired by RCA Victor in 1956 to shoot promotional images of a recently signed 21-year-old recording artist, Elvis Presley. Wertheimer's instincts to 'tag along' with the artist after the assignment and the resulting images provide us today with a candid look at Elvis before he exploded onto the scene and became one of the most exciting performers of his time.

The 56 black and white digital pigment prints, produced by certified Tamarind master printer David Adamson, give Wertheimer's unique visual record a cinematic power that makes Elvis' road to fame palpable.

'Henri Cartier-Bresson was known for his decisive moments, that one instant when everything falls into place. But I wanted to be known for the moment before or after the decisive moment...'

Alfred Wertheimer Elvis a King in the Making, p 21.

Elvis at 21, Photographs by Alfred Wertheimer was developed collaboratively by the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery, the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, and Govinda Gallery, and is sponsored by HISTORY.

More about the exhibition >

Elvis in Australia >

Learning resource

This resource has connections with the Australian Curriculum and is designed primarily for year 10 teachers of English, history, music and visual arts. The resource focuses on twelve works presented in chronological order, selected from the exhibition to enrich students' understanding of Alfred Wertheimer's photographs. It promotes active learning by providing questions and activities before, during and after the visit to the exhibition at the Gallery or online. Activities and questions can be adapted to suit students' learning needs.

Download [pdf, 2.3MB]

Sponsors Ernest & Young
On train, New York to Memphis, July 4, 1956 by Alfred Wertheimer
Onstage, The Mosque, Richmond, June 30, 1956 by Alfred Wertheimer

1 On train, New York to Memphis, July 4, 1956 by Alfred Wertheimer

2 Onstage, The Mosque, Richmond, June 30, 1956 by Alfred Wertheimer

All images © Alfred Wertheimer. All rights reserved.