Irving Blum, New York
Philip and Gladys Leider, New York
OK Harris, New York
Private Collection, Italy
Galleria Gian Enzo Sperone, Turin
Private Collection, Italy (acquired in the 1970s)
Sale: Sotheby's, London, Contemporary Art, Part I, 27 June 2001, Lot 15
Private Collection, United States
Sale: Christie's, London, Post-War and Contemporary Art, 23 June 2005, Lot 31
Acquired directly from the above by the present owner
Georg Frei and Neil Printz, The Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonné. Paintings and Sculptures 1964-1969, New York 2004, Vol. 2A, p. 197, no. 1131, illustrated in colour (incorrectly)
"The woman whose feelings were reproduced in all the media to such an extent that no better historical document on the exhibitionism of American emotional values is conceivable"
Rainer Crone, Andy Warhol, New York 1970, p. 29
Executed in 1964, Jackie is an important paragon of Pop Art from the very heart of Andy Warhol's most celebrated period. One of just a handful of single canvases of Jackie Kennedy in gold – the dominant colour of the seminal The Week That Was I that inaugurated the series - this is truly a Pop masterpiece and absolutely central to this golden age of Contemporary Art. While other gold examples of this particular silkscreen now reside in The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh and are on loan to the Baltimore Museum of Art, the present work is exceptional in the inversion of the subject with Jackie facing right to left, marking the present work as highly singular and revealing important insight into Warhol's method. Epitomising the moment when Warhol's work advanced from the cosmopolitan avant-garde to become a global phenomenon, Jackie is central to his revolutionising of iconography, which has so fundamentally shaped the development of visual culture ever since. With the most brilliant artistic and conceptual economy, this work encapsulates the allure of unlimited celebrity, critiques the manipulative power and replicating effects of mass-media, and is a groundbreaking response to one of the most tragic moments of twentieth-century American history.
The rarity and quality of Jackie makes it worthy of the most venerable museum collection. While golden canvases included in celebrated masterpieces of the Jackie corpus now reside in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and The Gallery of Modern Art, Iwaki, Jackie works on blue and white canvases are preserved in prestigious institutions from the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, to the Museum Ludwig in Cologne and the Staatliche Museem zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie. The extraordinary metallic and reflective qualities of gold held particular importance for Warhol, and outstanding highlights of the Jackie series depend upon the predominance of the colour such as The Week That Was I, and Jackie Frieze, which is almost entirely gold. In fact Warhol's use of gold was exceptionally rare: outside the Jackie works, two round Marilyns of 1962, two Ethel Sculls of 1963 and the dramatically iconic Gold Marilyn Monroe of 1962 in the Museum of Modern Art in New York are exceptional instances of gold canvases in Warhol's entire 1960s output. Jackie perfectly symbolises the currency of celebrity and as an icon deserving reverential adoration, Warhol's subject becomes the consummate deity of Pop Art.
From the moment her husband was voted President of the United States in November 1960, Jackie Kennedy had been an inspirational heroine to millions in the optimistic climate of a newly rejuvenated post-war America. Physically epitomising youth, beauty and style, she became the ideal of a wife, mother and First Lady. In Jackie she is shown attending her husband's funeral following the historic tragedy that has become synonymous with the letters J.F.K. when an open-top limousine journey and a sniper's bullet devastated the emotional landscape of a nation. "Then, for the first time, there were many who experienced the banality of illustrious death, time being measured by the flash: a gasping instant" (Remo Guidieri, "JFK", in: Exhibition Catalogue, Houston, The Menil Collection, Andy Warhol: Death and Disasters, 1988-89, p. 29). This image is sourced in a photo taken during his burial ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C. two days after his assassination. While the route of the cortege was lined by 800,000 mourners, broadcasting agencies and news editors assembled their valedictory testimonials to a hero. As an entire population sank into the shared psychosis of bereavement, the media's carefully choreographed narration precipitated one of the most prodigious critiques of mass communication ever conceived.
This traumatizing national experience, one of the earliest to be mediated by the media, is arguably also the first to be implanted in the public's consciousness by means of ubiquitous photographic images. In this climate Warhol was immediately intrigued by "the way television and radio were programming everybody to feel so sad" (Andy Warhol and Pat Hackett, POPism: The Warhol '60s, 1980). Warhol scoured the popular press for portraits of Jackie Kennedy, eventually selecting eight reproductions and cropping each to about three and-a-half by three inches. Warhol ordered a large screen for the eight photos together in which each image was enlarged to twenty by sixteen inches, so that the entire mechanical was eighty inches high. To make individual canvases the other seven images were covered before the ink was pushed through the silkscreen onto the canvas.
The tension between public and private personae is at the root of much of Andy Warhol's art. He had earlier portrayed Jackie Kennedy in 1962 in the frontal, movie-star format used in his similar paintings of Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor. Although these three celebrities each possessed private turmoil and personal tragedy, it was the glittering surface persona that the public wanted and that the media celebrated. Warhol grasped intuitively that a public image shown pervasively through the mass media was a merely artificial construct. For Jackie Kennedy, the enormity of her tragedy in 1963 personified a wider sense of national loss, and her inner trauma became her public persona. Advancing themes initiated in his highly acclaimed Death and Disaster series, Warhol here narrates the catastrophe through the mirror of Jackie's face, relating the horror by depicting its closest witness. Jackie's mourning desolation forms the widow's shadow, holding a fading memory of the iconic husband. Indeed, by appropriating potent imagery and re-presenting narrative through implication and absence Jackie should be considered a poignant history painting of the Twentieth Century.
Jackie enshrines on canvas one of the defining moments of modern American history, in an image which is deeply personal, revealing the private side of a very public event. The idol of lost halcyon tranquillity, literally a vestige of Camelot, Jackie Kennedy will always re-tell an epic tragedy. Frei and Printz have assessed how Warhol "brought her into close-up, making her the dramatic focus and emotional barometer of the Kennedy assassination, shifting the historical narrative into a series of affective moments or portraits that register the subject over time" (Georg Frei and Neil Printz, Eds., The Andy Catalogue Raisonné, Vol. 2A, Paintings and Sculptures 1964-1969, London and New York 2004, p. 103). Without historical perspective and working immediately after the event, Warhol identified the media's capacity to fix this association between icon and story exceptionally early. In keeping with his very best work, celebrity, tragedy and the spectre of death inhabit every pore of this magnificent painting. The profuse repetition of Jackie's silk-screened portraits mirrors the shattering of moments when time stands still. Replicating a lost moment in the stark reality of tonal duality, suffused in a pool of transcendent reflective gold, this perfect Jackie is the iconic paean to individual's struggle with disaster.
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