Portrait of President Bill Clinton

Exhibit: “The Clinton White House,” Bob McNeely at the Leica Gallery, New York — June 30 through Aug. 26, 2000.

In his capacity as chief White House photographer from 1992 through 1998, Bob McNeely shadowed President Clinton in quiet personal moments and campaign strategy sessions, at historic meetings with heads of state and preparing for on-air debates. Through it all, McNeely manages to capture aspects of the president’s private and public moments with stateliness and intimacy. Most importantly, however, is McNeely’s approach as a kind a Clinton biographer.

‘The Clinton Years: The Photographs of Robert McNeely’

Clinton, seated alone on a stage at the outset of a televised debate during his re-election campaign, appears almost diminuitive yet eager, much like a schoolboy looking to impress his teachers.

Other times, Clinton is portrayed in the midst of a hearty laugh. And the relentlessness of a political campaign is evident as McNeely follows Clinton, Vice President Al Gore and advisors into a Tennessee restroom.

In Campaign Strategy Meeting, a stray hand holds up a sheet of paper for the president to read, as Clinton, his face reflected in a mirror, stands emotionless, as if acknowledging the weight he bears, a burden the general public will never know.

McNeely here provides a sweeping sense of history, in black and white, of a presidency that re-energized the electorate and redefined the political process.

Shooting more than 25,000 rolls of film in six years, McNeely has created a document of Clinton’s legacy, which will become part of the archive of presidential papers at the Clinton Library in Little Rock, Ark.

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