- Andy Warhol
- Round Jackie
- signed on the reverse
- gold paint and silkscreen ink on canvas
- Diameter: 17 3/4 inches
Acquired by the present owner from the above
The rarity, provenance and quality of Round Jackie makes it truly worthy of the most exceptional museum collection. Indeed this tondo was included in the 1989-1990 retrospective exhibition of Warhol’s work that travelled to New York, London, Cologne, Venice and Paris. Furthermore, the eminent provenance of this Round Jackie is impeccable, beginning with the collection of Samuel Adams Green, a friend of the artist who was instrumental in bringing national attention to the young Pop art phenomenon. The two met in 1962 when Warhol visited the Green Gallery in New York where Green worked at the time. In 1964, he was appointed director of the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia and organized that museum's infamous retrospective of Warhol’s work in 1965. In photographs of the wildly popular opening to the show, Green can be seen on the stairs, trying to help Edie Sedgwick and the artist out of the mobbed crowd.
Two of the other round gold Jackies now reside in The Art Museum of Princeton University on long term loan, having been exhibited together at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston in 1966. However, whereas the gold color of the two Princeton paintings was sprayed onto the canvas, this Round Jackie was lavished with more attention by being hand-painted gold. The extraordinary metallic and reflective qualities of gold held particular importance for Warhol, and his use of the color was exceptionally rare. The round format is also virtually unique, being used elsewhere only in the two Marilyn works. Here the circular canvas outline serenely frames and echoes the rounded curves of Jackie's beautiful visage as well as evoking other uses of the format from the Renaissance tondo to profile portraits stamped on coins and medallions. Indeed, evoking the head of an empress or monarch on a golden coin, Round Jackie perfectly symbolizes the currency of celebrity and as an icon deserving reverential adoration, Warhol's subject becomes the consummate deity of Pop Art.
The editors of Warhol's 2004 catalogue raisonné cite an early photo of the artist's legendary factory to suggest that Round Jackie was one of the inaugural paintings he made of Jacqueline Kennedy after the tragedy of her husband's assassination. As such this painting would directly presage the golden canvases included in celebrated masterpieces of the Jackie corpus now residing in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and The Gallery of Modern Art, Iwaki. Furthermore it would predate all the celebrated Jackie works on blue and white canvases, examples of which are housed in prestigious institutions from the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, to the Museum Ludwig in Cologne and the Staatliche Museem zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie.
In Round Jackie the illumination of her smile eerily portends the historic tragedy that has become synonymous with the letters J.F.K. Sourced in a photograph taken at Dallas Love Field airport on the morning of 22nd November 1963, Round Jackie immortalizes the final moments before 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 Exh. Cat., Houston, The Menil Collection, Andy Warhol: Death and Disasters, 1988-89, p. 29) 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. For the viewer, there is an overwhelming sense of dramatic irony in knowing the subsequent outcome of the day's events: Jackie's radiant smile soon to be transformed by mourning desolation into 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 Round Jackie should be considered as a poignant history painting of the Twentieth Century.
The smiling idol of lost halcyon tranquility, literally a vestige of Camelot, Jackie Kennedy will always re-tell an epic tragedy. Jackie's silk-screened portraits mirror the shattering of moments when time stands still: replicating a lost moment in the stark reality of tonal duality, suffused in a circular pool of transcendent reflective gold, this Round Jackie is the iconic paean to an individual's struggle with disaster.