The ultimate subject for Warhol, for whom human tragedy was played out so publicly. In Sixteen Jackies (1964), the assassination of President John F. Kennedy is conveyed solely on his widow’s face, from her smile as she rode through Dallas with her husband, to a stunned Jackie watching Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson being sworn in as President, to her forlorn yet stoic expression during his funeral, rounded out with a row of pre-assassination Jackies.MULTIPLES
Commercial silk screening techniques enabled Warhol to mass produce art. His studio was dubbed The Factory because of the machine-like techniques used to create art. Warhol added varying colours to give each print a distinctive look and feel.CELEBRITY AND DEATH
These two themes were intertwined for Warhol. Being a celebrity was the cause of death in some cases, and the more famous a person, the more tragic their demise seemed, as was the case with Grace Kelly and Marilyn Monroe. A horrific death, such as a ghastly car accident, could bring everyday people fame, too, if only for 15 minutes.ICONS
Public figures from a variety of social and political spheres, such as actresses Jane Fonda or Elizabeth Taylor, rocker Mick Jagger and Chinese communist leader Mao Tse Tung, reflected the incessant media attention paid to these individuals through images splashed across magazines, newspapers, television and movies worldwide.DOCUMENTATION
Warhol co-opted the “realistic” medium of photography to both document and creatively interpret the many facets of contemporary life. In this composition, a climactic moment in the life of a nation is grounded by a sense of personal loss. This before-and-after pictorial narrative treatment charts the rise and fall of a nation’s hopes and dreams in the changing expressions of its most celebrated citizen.
For Canadian filmmaker David Cronenberg’s—and guest curator—take on Andy Warhol and the exhibit Supernova: Stars, Deaths and Disasters, 1962-1964, see Warhol’s World.—Linda Luong