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This show represents the first exhibition of Warhol’s iconic silk-screen paintings of Jacqueline Kennedy since they were made 50 years ago. Creating 300 portraits in all, Warhol focused on images of the generational icon before and after JFK’s assassination, using photographs sourced from magazines and newspapers. Fifty of them form the foundation of this dynamic display.
Among the highlights are three tondi of smiling Jackies on gold grounds, which resemble similar circular canvases of Marilyn Monroe. There’s also the incomparable Nine Jackies, a multipanel grid contrasting images of a buoyant First Lady arriving in Dallas on November 22, 1963, with her veiled countenance during the President’s funeral a few days later. A singular black-and-white canvas of the latter picture, which was taken from the New York Post, reveals its source through irregular cropping. Sixteen Jackies, the largest work here, was assembled by a collector with Warhol’s permission.
Portraying Jackie as she progressed from joy to grief, Warhol crystallized two of his signature themes: celebrity and death. But as a devout Catholic, he was also channeling his own immense sorrow over the demise of the first Catholic President. By doing so, he created objects of veneration that the whole world could embrace.