Handbook Highlight: 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)