Sol LeWitt Wall Drawings in the WCMA Atrium_x1200

Handbook Highlight: Jackie

Andy Warhol's Jackie

Anyone old enough to recall the date November 22, 1963 remembers exactly where they were when the news broke that President Kennedy had been assassinated. The tragic incident sparked a flooding of images in the media, many incited fear, many compassion, but only a few have become iconic. The images used in Andy Warhol’s Jackie (one of which is depicted above) are some of the few.

At the time of her husband’s presidency, Jackie Onassis was ubiquitous in the media, and became a beloved national celebrity on her own. Warhol manipulated source photographs of her before and after her husband’s death to depict the very public struggle Onassis had with something most everyone else has the benefit of doing privately: grieving. The images inundated the public—Jackie before the assassination, next to Lyndon Johnson as he’s sworn in, at the funeral—and because of her celebrity status, the line between the public’s mourning of their president and Onassis’ mourning of her husband was all but erased. Warhol makes a clear, public expression of private grief that mirrors the media’s coverage of the event.

In one photo, Onassis stands next to Lyndon Johnson in her pink coat, her husband’s blood still spattered across it. Refusing to take it off, she told Lady Bird Johnson, “I want them to see what they have done to Jack.” And, because of Warhol, the world saw what they did to Jackie, as well.

Above: Andy Warhol (American, 1928-1987); Jackie, 1964; synthetic polymer paint and silk screen ink on canvas. Copy Right Holder: Artists Rights Society (ARS) and Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. Partial gift of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. and museum purchase from the John B. Turner ’24 Memorial Fund and Karl E. Weston Memorial Fund. (95.11.1)

3 Responses to Handbook Highlight: Jackie

  1. Steve says:

    Warhol used, ‘at times’, subtle but powerful imagery, the thinking man’s contemporary artist. Maybe Banksie is our version for our times!

    Just my slant on it…Steve

  2. Richard H - CollegeBoy says:

    The pic of Jackie standing next to LBJ when he was being sworn in has always been etched into my memory. She was making a huge statement to the public and unknowingly (maybe she suspected) standing next to the biggest suspect in her own husband’s assassination. What a powerful woman she was!