An Exhibition in Tragedy – Warhol on the JFK Tragedy

Astghik Cin Poghosyan  | October 2016

With the upcoming election, and new film, “Jackie”, starring Natalie Portman lined up for a December release, we are set to re-experience our own captivation with the national tragedy that not only changed the course of American history forever, but also inspired a series of screenprints by pop art revolutionary, Andy Warhol

John F. Kennedy’s (JFK) assassination, just over 50 years ago, brought grief to America during the 1960s.  On the 22nd of November, Warhol recalls where he was when the tragedy took place, “I heard the news over the radio while I was alone painting in my studio,” Warhol was reported to have said, “I don’t think I missed a stroke. I wanted to know what was going on out  there, but that was the extent of my reaction. I’d been thrilled about having Kennedy as president; he was handsome, young, smart — but it didn’t bother me that much that he was dead. What bothered me was the way television and radio were programming everybody to feel so sad. It seemed like no matter how hard you tried, you couldn’t get away from the thing”.   


The media and the newspapers were responsible for the report, and Warhol being fascinated by celebrities, creatively mixed popular culture with worldwide news to create one of his most iconic series’ to date. 

The 11 prints featured in Flash- November 22, 1963  were the result of strewn newspaper clippings and, enlarged and screen-printed in an array of neon colors. The media’s obsession with tragedy bothered Warhol since he was fond of Kennedy as a president. Warhol also did another series of prints featuring the same concept of Jackie after JFK’s death. One might suggest it was that same fascination with tragedy that made the prints appealing. With November 22, quickly approaching come check out Warhol’s vision of JFK’s assignation decorating the walls of Revolver Gallery this fall!