10 April 2014 - 17 May 2014

‘Red Jackie’ is one of the most iconic of Andy Warhol’s screen prints.  It is also one of my favourite art images of all time.

It depicts Jacqueline Kennedy in 1964 prior to the assassination of President John F Kennedy.  She is in her prime: The First Lady of America, she epitomises refinement, elegance and grace.  She became a role model to women the world over. 

She was also the subject of numerous screen prints by Warhol.  Subjects included Marilyn Monroe and other iconic figures from the time.  Yet, it is Jackie who is chosen as the subject of this exhibition.

The Exhibition:

The exhibition comprises numerous images of Jackie before and after the assassination of JFK.  Notable images are those of her shortly after the event and at the funeral.  It is said that Warhol cut out the images from newspapers and used them in his screen prints.  The images are bold with a defined line.  The nature of the screen print does not allow for shade and subtly nor for delicate details.  The image is striking and the colours on the print reinforce this.

A notable piece of work at the exhibition is ‘Nine Jackies’.  It comprises 9 images of Jackie in her pink pillbox hat.  She is smiling.  As the exhibition continues the images move to those of the motorcade to her witnessing the oath by Linden B. Johnson and finally to the funeral.  She transforms from a dazzling icon of America to a grieving widow and pillar of courage – a different kind of icon altogether, but an icon nevertheless. 

I believe that Warhol immortalised a tragic moment in history that has been replayed over and over.  By taking pictures of Jackie and repeating them he has mirrored the replaying of this event in social media.

Jackie the Icon:

Returning to the image that inspired the subject of this article and the exhibition.  I think that this is the image of Jackie that we should always remember.

The boldness of the red background contrasted to the bold image of the portrait and the beauty of her dark features and face make this a truly beautiful image.  She was an exceptional individual even prior to the assassination when she showed great courage and dignity.  It can be argued that she came to epitomise ‘the look’ of the decade with a number of other select names.

During the days after the assassination, she coined the phrase ‘Camelot’ to describe the Kennedy administration. 

This conjures up images of King Arthur and fair maidens.  It was a time of high art and good taste.  Ballet and operas were performed regularly at the White House.  Musicians and poets entertained guests also.  It can be argued that this was a time that America and Americans were deemed polished in a manner of and on a par with Europeans!

It was also a time when history was being made: the civil rights movement, and the moon landings.  Anything and everything seemed possible.