ANDY WARHOL (1928-1987)
ANDY WARHOL (1928-1987)
ANDY WARHOL (1928-1987)
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ANDY WARHOL (1928-1987)
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ANDY WARHOL (1928-1987)

Sixteen Jackies

ANDY WARHOL (1928-1987)
Sixteen Jackies
signed 'Andy Warhol' (on the overlap of four canvases)
silkscreen ink on linen, in sixteen parts
overall: 80 x 64 in. (203.2 x 162.6 cm.)
Painted in 1964.
Leo Castelli Gallery, New York
Dunkelman Gallery, Toronto
Anon. sale; Sotheby Parke Bernet Inc, New York, 3 May 1974, lot 548
Sperone Westwater Fischer, New York
Saatchi Collection, London, 1984
Anon. sale; Sotheby's, New York, 6 May 1992, lot 26
Samuel and Ronnie Heyman, New York
Anon. sale; Sotheby's, New York, 17 November 1998, lot 44
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner
J. Coplans, Andy Warhol, New York, 1970, p. 102 (illustrated).
R. Crone, Andy Warhol, New York and London, 1970, p. 291, no. 117.
J.-C. Ammann, M. Auping, R. Rosenblum and P. Schjeldahl, Art of Our Time: The Saatchi Collection, vol. 2, 1984, no. 78 (illustrated; titled and dated Jackie, 1965).
M. R. Beaumont, "Internationalism and Tradition: British and American Art Since 1945," Art and Design, vol. 3, nos. 9-10, 1987, p. 29 (illustrated; titled and dated Jackie, 1965).
J. Hendrickson, "Andy Warhol," Nike, vol. 5, no. 20, October-November 1987, p. 24 (illustrated; titled and dated Jacki, 1965).
Andy Warhol Retrospective, exh. cat., New York, Museum of Modern Art, 1989, p. 415, fig. 54 (illustrated).
Andy Warhol Rétrospective, exh. cat., Paris, Centres Georges Pompidou, 1989, p. 415, fig. 54 (illustrated).
G. Frei and N. Printz, eds., The Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings and Sculptures 1964-1969, vol. 2A, London, 2004, pp. 126, 144 and 384, no. 954, fig. X3 (illustrated).
Toronto, York University, American Art of the Sixties in Toronto Private Collections, May-June 1969, no. 49 (illustrated as the frontispiece; titled and dated Jackie, 1965).
Pasadena Art Museum; Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art; Eindhoven, Stedelijk Abbemuseum; Paris, Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris and London, Tate Gallery, Andy Warhol, May 1970-March 1971 (Eindhoven, no. 87; Paris, no. 41, titled and dated Jackie, 1965; London, p. 71, no. 45, illustrated, titled and dated Jackie, 1965).
Seattle Art Museum and Denver Art Museum, Andy Warhol: Portraits, November 1976-March 1977.
New York, Blum Helman Gallery, Andy Warhol: Early Paintings, December 1978-January 1979.
Portland Center for the Visual Arts, Andy Warhol, September-November 1980.
London, Saatchi Gallery, Judd, Warhol, Twombly, Marden, March-November 1985.
Hamburg, Kunstverein, Andy Warhol, October-December 1987, p. 34, no. 15 (illustrated; titled and dated Jackie, 1965).

Brought to you by

Emily Kaplan
Emily Kaplan Senior Vice President, Senior Specialist, Co-Head of 20th Century Evening Sale

Lot Essay

From Dallas, Texas, a flash — apparently official — President Kennedy died at 1 p.m. Central Standard Time. Walter Cronkite, CBS News, November 22, 1963

Andy Warhol’s Sixteen Jackies represents the peak of the artist’s Death and Disaster series, which encapsulates the most powerful and perceptive paintings of his career. With his multiple renderings of a mourning Jacqueline Kennedy, Warhol not only tells the story of one of the darkest days in modern American history, but also examines the power of images in modern society. Along with the nation at large, he regarded Mrs. Kennedy as the country’s emotional barometer in the days following the assassination, and indeed her displays of public mourning have become some of the most poignant images of the twentieth century, their enduring legacy due—in part—to Warhol’s iconic depictions of her. Included in the artist’s seminal exhibition organized by the Pasadena Museum in 1970, and held in the same private collection for nearly 30 years, Sixteen Jackies thus represents the pinnacle of Warhol’s introspective look into the soul of America.

On an otherwise unassuming Friday afternoon in November 1963, the day’s edition of the TV soap opera As the World Turns was suddenly interrupted by a news bulletin. Walter Cronkite, the journalist described as the most trusted man in America read a short fifteen word report: “From Dallas, Texas, a flash — apparently official — President Kennedy died at 1 p.m. Central Standard Time.” With that simple announcement, Cronkite not only informed the world of the death of a president, but also the death of a dream. The youth, vitality, and sense of hope and integrity that the 46-year-old John Fitzgerald Kennedy had injected into the American political system had died with him; the myth of Camelot was over.

Immediately the reaction was one of collective shock: in America, people cried openly in the streets, teachers interrupted classes with the news, and children returned home to find their parents in tears. This tidal wave of grief soon spread around the world: in the United Kingdom, the BBC suspended regular programming to broadcast the news, and the Dutch Queen ordered a week of official mourning at the royal court. In Asia, the Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru made a rare public broadcast, calling the news “terrible, shocking, stunning” (J. Nehru, quoted in ‘Many Nations Share America’s Grief, The New York Times, November 23, 1963, online). Even foreign foes such as Fidel Castro of Cuba and Nikita Khrushchev, sent letters of condolence. “I want to say frankly that the gravity of this loss is felt by the whole world” the Soviet leader wrote (N. Krushchev in a letter written to President Johnson, November 24, 1963, Office of the Historian, U.S. Department of State, online). Back in New York, one of the millions of people hearing the news was the artist Andy Warhol. According to an account by his friend Gerard Malanga, the pair were walking through Grand Central Terminal when news of the shooting broke, “Let’s go to work!” was his only response, as the pair headed to The Factory to continue working on his The Kiss (Bela Lugosi) canvases (A. Warhol, quoted by B. Gopnik, Warhol, New York, 2020, p. 347).

As the world began to process the death of President Kennedy, the public face of that overwhelming sense of loss was the former first lady, Jacqueline Kennedy and her young family. Overnight, her image as one of the most beautiful and glamorous women in the world was transformed into one of mourning; her wardrobe of designer dresses was replaced by a simple black outfit, and the face that had graced a thousand magazine covers, was now hidden behind a dark veil. This dramatic change was captured in the press photographs taken on that fateful November day. In the morning, as the couple arrived in Dallas on Air Force One in Dallas, the first lady was wearing a pastel pink suit and pillbox hat; when the plane arrived back in Washington later that night carrying her husband’s casket, she was swathed, head to toe, in black.
Thousands of images were captured that day by hundreds of photographers, then beamed around the world and splashed across newspaper front pages and TV news bulletins, thus becoming the defining images of one of the darkest days in American history. It was from these photographs that Warhol selected eight, as the basis for his Jackie series; eight images that told the story of an American icon. Painted in 1964, the present work is the only work from the series that repeats the same image in a 4 x 4 grid in one monochromatic palette. It is with this work that the enormity of Jackie’s personal grief, together with the shock of the entire world, is on full display. Here, in stark contrast to her glamorous ‘cover girl’ persona, we witness the stoic face of the former first lady sheathed in a veil of dark organdy sheer fabric.

As a beautiful young widow, Jackie entered into the sphere of glamour and grief inhabited by Marilyn and Liz, quintessentially referencing death, American style. Neil Printz

The image that Warhol selected for Sixteen Jackies is among the most powerful. It was taken as she walked at the head of the funeral procession that accompanied her husband’s body through the streets of Washington to its final resting place at Arlington Cemetery. In the tightly cropped image of her face, Warhol ensures that our attention is focused solely on her grief. Looking straight ahead she appears to be blocking out the enormity of the occasion, as one million people lined the route that ran from the Capitol back to the White House, and then onto St. Matthew’s Cathedral before arriving at Arlington. As David Bourdon writes: "By cropping in on Mrs. Kennedy's face, Warhol emphasized the heavy emotional toll during those tragic closing days in November. The so-called Jackie Portraits… clearly reveal how struck he was by her courage during the ordeal" (D. Bourdon, Warhol, New York, 1989, p. 181). The only other figure, barely visible, is another member of the funeral entourage, Stephen Smith—the husband of Jean Ann Kennedy and a political strategist in John F. Kennedy’s 1960 presidential campaign. The two figures who were standing either side of Mrs. Kennedy as she followed the coffin—the president’s brothers, Robert and Edward Kennedy—have been omitted from Warhol’s composition, an indication perhaps that the artist’s intention was to place the burden of the nation’s grief entirely on Jackie’s shoulders. “As a beautiful young widow, Jackie entered into the sphere of glamour and grief inhabited by Marilyn and Liz, quintessentially referencing death, American style” (N. Printz, ‘Painting Death in America,’ in Andy Warhol Death and Disasters, exh. cat., Menil Collection, Houston, 1988, p. 21).

Unlike the other five paintings which feature sixteen images of Jackie, the present work is the only one that has been executed in a single color palette. From his earliest days as an artist, Warhol understood the emotional pull of color; from the familiar red label of his Campbell’s Soup Cans to gleaming Gold Marilyn Monroe, Warhol was very deliberate in his use of color. Not only does the use of black-and-white in the present work match the original printed newspaper image, it also acts to reinforce the impact of the image. While he rendered other works in the Jackie series in phthalo blue adding an obvious degree of melancholy, in the present work the combination of the repeated image (and this image in particular), and the monochromatic palette combines to focus attention on Jackie herself, and the unimaginable pain she is going through. As Rainer Crone notes, the colors used by the artist “serve to intensify the effect of alienation created by the realism of the visual content” (R. Crone, Andy Warhol, New York, 1970, p. 29).

By using the same image over and over again—in much the same way that it was being broadcast over and over again on TV and plastered across every front page of every newspaper in the country—Warhol ensured that Jackie’s likeness was seared onto the world’s collective retina. This was all part of his continued interest in the act of looking, something which had dominated his career from the start; with the proliferation of imagery in the mass media, Warhol firmly believed that the audience had forgotten how to look. In a prelude to the artist’s growing interest in film (he would give up painting for a period shortly after completing Sixteen Jackies to concentrate on filmmaking), the sequence also mirrors the passage of the individual frames of film as they pass through a projector. Another consequence of repeating the same image in this way is that Warhol simulates (intentionally or not) the interruption of this projection—as though the film has become stuck—bringing the scene to a juddering, abrupt halt. In this way, Warhol is drawing our attention not only to the artifice inherent in the reproduction of such images, but also to the fragility inherent in life itself.

It was Christmas or Labor Day—a holiday—and every time you turned on the radio they said something like “4 million are going to die.” That started it. But when you see a gruesome picture over and over again, it doesn’t really have any effect. Andy Warhol

Warhol’s Sixteen Jackie sits at the pinnacle of a group of works that became known as his Death and Disaster paintings. Off the back of the success of his Campbell’s Soup Cans and portraits of Hollywood superstars such as Marilyn Monroe, the direction of Warhol’s paintings took a somewhat unexpected turn. According to an interview published in Art News in 1963, Warhol told Gene Swenson that he was prompted by a headline he’d seen in a newspaper: “I guess it was the big plane crash picture, from the front page of the newspaper: 129 DIE,” he said. “I was also painting the Marilyns. I realized that everything I was doing must have been Death. It was Christmas or Labor Day—a holiday—and every time you turned on the radio they said something like “4 million are going to die.” That started it. But when you see a gruesome picture over and over again, it doesn’t really have any effect” (A Warhol, quoted by N. Printz, ‘Painting Death in America,’ in W. Hopps, Andy Warhol Death and Disaster, exh. cat., The Menil Collection, Houston, 1988, p. 19).

Maybe everything isn’t always so fabulous in America. It’s time for some death. This is what’s really happening. Henry Geldzahler

Another telling of the story involves the critic Henry Geldzahler. Having seen the front page of the New York Mirror on June 4, 1962, he suggested a change of direction to the artist. “It’s enough affirmation of soup and coke bottles,” Geldzahler reportedly told Warhol over lunch. “Maybe everything isn’t always so fabulous in America. It’s time for some death. This is what’s really happening,” showing him a copy of the newspaper (H. Geldzahler, quoted in V. Brockis, The Life and Death of Andy Warhol, London, 1989, p. 169). Whichever version of the story is true, it began a period of heroic production for the artist and a body of work which has come to be regarded as one of the most shocking, yet psychologically perceptive, of Warhol’s career.

Over the next few months, Warhol would produce an almost continuous stream of paintings featuring images of suicides, car crashes, electric chairs, nuclear explosions, race riots, murderers, and even victims of a fatal food poisoning outbreak. Each image was culled from the pages of a newspaper, and in most cases each was repeated, screened several times over the surface of the canvas. Sometimes Warhol introduced color—often as monotonous fields of somewhat incongruous color—but in each case the focus was always on cross-examining how we process these distressing images in a growing multi-media world.
Whilst superficially at least, Warhol’s Death and Disaster might seem at odds with his previous celebrations of America’s burgeoning consumer and celebrity culture, they do provided a thought-provoking counterpoint to these earlier works. Many of the victims of his car crashes, suicides, and fires were women, and the depictions of their lifeless bodies strewn across the pavement were in stark contrast to the coiffured and idealized imagery of femininity that was portrayed by his iconic paintings of Marilyn Monroe. Even the food poisoning narrative of his Tunafish Disasters (featuring the two Detroit housewives who died after eating contaminated cans of tuna) sit in interesting dialogue with Warhol’s iconic Campbell’s Soup Cans and their promise of cheap, plentiful, and ultimately—safe—food. In Sixteen Jackies we see this contradiction played out multiple times across the surface of a single painting, as images of Kennedy in the public conscious change from that of glamorous icon to a grieving widow within the space of just a few hours.
SHAPE \* MERGEFORMAT Warhol’s own reaction to President Kennedy’s death is as complex as the painting that it inspired. While Gerard Malanga’s recollections infer that Warhol seemed indifferent in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, John Giorno recalls that he and Warhol being sat glued to the TV coverage weeping “great big crocodile tears while Andy said over and over again ‘I don’t know what it means.’” (J. Giorno, quoted by T. Scherman and D. Doulton, Pop: The Genius of Andy Warhol, New York, 2009, 185). Over the next year Warhol had time to more fully understand the impact of Kennedy’s death, not on the political ramifications per se, but more its social impact. “It didn’t bother me that much that he was dead,” Warhol is quoted as saying, “What bothered me was the way the television and radio were programming everyone to feel so sad. It seemed no matter how hard you tried, you couldn’t get away from the thing” A. Warhol, ibid.).

Death was an ever present specter in Warhol’s life. He had been a sickly child, suffering from scarlet fever at the age of 8-years-old, which—before the widespread introduction of antibiotics—was a life-threatening condition that would have left him bedridden for several weeks, as well as leaving him with longer-term complications. Later in life he would have an even closer brush with death when, in 1968, he suffered a traumatic shooting at the hands of feminist writer Valerie Solanas. Later remembering the events, he recalled “…as I was putting the phone down, I heard a loud exploding noise and whirled around: I saw Valerie pointing a gun at me and I realized she’d just fired it. I said ‘No! No, Valerie! Don’t do it!’ and she shot at me again” (A. Warhol, quoted in A. Warhol and P. Hackett, POPism: The Warhol Sixties, Orlando, 1980, p. 343). The snub-nosed gun used in the attack was memorialized in his Gun paintings; bold and graphic, it is at once a depiction of a detached and decontextualized symbol and also a deeply personal, cathartic working-through of the trauma that colored much of Warhol’s life.

Sixteen Jackies is a superlative example of one of Warhol’s darkest, yet most perceptive bodies of work. Much more than his paintings of soup cans and Coca-Cola bottles, the artist’s Death and Disaster paintings reflect not only the complex nature of his personality, but also his relationship with America. As obsessed with celebrity as he was with the darker side of American life, as an artist he had an unrivalled ability to examine America, as America—perhaps—did not want to examine itself, “Warhol talked up his Death and Disaster pictures,” notes Gopnik, “clearly feeling that they did no more than reflect the true state of affairs in the nation…” (B. Gopnik, Warhol, New York, 2020, p. 347).

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