What Memes Owe to Art History
Title: Jacqueline Kennedy III (FS II.15)
Medium: Screenprint on paper
Size: 40” x 30”
Edition: 200, 50 numbered in Roman numerals, signed with a rubber stamp and numbered in pencil on verso. Published in the portfolio 11 Pop Artists III, containing works by eleven artists.
Jacqueline Kennedy III print features four different images of Jacqueline Kennedy surrounding the death of her husband, President John F. Kennedy. These images also came from the December 6, 1963 issue of Life magazine, by the photographer Fred Ward. The same eleven artists were featured in each of the different versions of the 11 Pop Artists portfolio. In this print, Warhol still uses the stock images from the magazine, with simple black ink, however it is printed on blue paper. The images chosen depict Jackie in a variety of emotions, all of which the American public most likely shared during this time.
Andy Warhol chose to crop the source images found in Life magazine so that the only focus was on Jacqueline Kennedy. This is a common theme found throughout his works. Andy Warhol did not like how the media handled the death of JFK and these images of Jacqueline Kennedy were his response to the media blitz. Warhol once said that “…it didn’t bother me much that he was dead, what bothered me was the way television and radio were programming everybody to feel so sad.” By cropping the images and zooming in on Jackie’s face, he is bringing to attention to both her grief and courage. Jacqueline Kennedy continues to be considered American royalty and her image is very iconic, especially by Warhol. While Warhol had used publicity and news-service photos prior to this series, the Jacqueline Kennedy pieces are the portraits where he used images pulled directly from the newspaper or magazines.
Obsessed with celebrity, consumer culture, and mechanical (re)production, Pop artist Andy Warhol created some of the most iconic images of the 20th century. As famous for his quips as for his art—he variously mused that “art is what you can get away with” and “everyone will be famous for 15 minutes”—Warhol drew widely from popular culture and everyday subject matter, creating works like his 32 Campbell's Soup Cans (1962), Brillo pad box sculptures, and portraits of Marilyn Monroe, using the medium of silk-screen printmaking to achieve his characteristic hard edges and flat areas of color. Known for his cultivation of celebrity, Factory studio (a radical social and creative melting pot), and avant-garde films like Chelsea Girls (1966), Warhol was also a mentor to artists like Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat. His Pop sensibility is now standard practice, taken up by major contemporary artists Richard Prince, Takashi Murakami, and Jeff Koons, among countless others.
American, 1928-1987, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, based in New York, New York
What Memes Owe to Art History
10 Masters of the Self-Portrait, in Their Own Words
Your Kids Will Love These Children’s Books Illustrated by Famous Artists