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Jackie Frieze
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Jackie Frieze
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Jackie Frieze

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NY, US
US

About the item

Jackie Frieze is a tour de force presentation of one of Warhol’s most poignant images – his well-known series of portraits of the First Lady, Jacqueline Kennedy, as seen by millions of viewers during the televised funeral procession for the assassinated President, John F. Kennedy. The events of November 1963 were a searing moment of national shock and the televised proceedings and print media coverage surrounding this moment of communal grief brought images to our public consciousness that are as vivid today as they were when they occurred. Over the span of four days, the public watched transfixed as television provided extensive live coverage of the aftermath of the assassination, the capture and shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald and the stately ceremony surrounding the President’s funeral. Today, the 24-hour coverage of cable news outlets is the norm, but the extent of the coverage of the Kennedy assassination and funeral was unprecedented in the 1960s, saturating the airwaves, the newspapers and the magazines. For an artist whose work was inspired by the confluence of public and private in the media and an artist who used the found imagery of newspapers, tabloids and media as his source material, Warhol would naturally respond to the most extensively covered media event of his time.\nEarlier, Warhol portrayed Jackie Kennedy in 1962 in the frontal, movie-star format used in his similar paintings of Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor. At that time, Mrs. Kennedy was the glamorous face of a young and vibrant post-war America, known for stylishness and grace. As with the portraits of Marilyn and Liz, Warhol chose his subject with a sly nod toward the dichotomy between surface and substance, the obvious and the hidden. Marilyn, Liz and Jackie all had private turmoil or tragedy – inner demons and suicide, unhappy marriages and near-death illnesses, or the loss of a newborn baby – yet it was the glittering surface persona that the public wished to see and that the media celebrated and exploited. In the case of Jackie, the enormity of her tragedy in 1963 informed our sense of national loss, and her inner trauma was now allowed to become evident in her public persona, creating a more complicated image. The tragic events of 1963 transformed her into a symbol of national mourning, and the young widow became a subject in which Warhol’s fascination with death and disaster is intermingled with his fascination for celebrity more profoundly than anywhere else in Warhol’s oeuvre.\nJackie Frieze is one of two extant works by Warhol in which the artist assembled Jackie portraits in a horizontal frieze format. The other frieze consists of eight canvases of gold and silver backgrounds, and is a promised gift to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. The present work numbers thirteen canvases with a wider variation of chromatic variety in the blue and gray backgrounds.  The image of Jackie and the format of the Jackie Frieze dramatically emphasize the photographic sources and the cinematic quality of Warhol’s work, and once again highlight the unique symbiosis between Warhol’s subject and his innovative silkscreen technique. The raw humanism of the mourning Jackie and the other images of suicide, car accidents and capital punishment in the Death and Disaster series is juxtaposed against Warhol’s desire to be detached and machine-like in his artistic process, revealing the contradictory impulses that led him to produce some of the most powerful and moving works of the last half century.\nThe earliest Death and Disaster paintings, such as 129 Die in Jet (Plane Crash) in 1962 are hand-drawn and hand-painted images incorporating headlines. Later that same year, Warhol began to screen photographic reproductions onto monochromatic canvases, inaugurating his signature method. The advantages of screen-printing are its quality as a form of pure reproduction, capable of multiple repetitions, with great efficiency and neutrality. The method appealed to his visual and aesthetic sense as a graphic artist, since photo-mechanics emphasize the separation of figure and ground with high contrasts. But most importantly, Warhol had discovered the ideal medium to depersonalize and manipulate his art.  Warhol could crop in closely to an image, as he did with Jackie Kennedy’s veiled face in Jackie Frieze, bringing the viewer into Jackie’s intimate world. Yet, in its ability to endlessly repeat the same image, the screen-printing process can dilute the emotional impact of the chosen image. In a famous 1963 interview with Gene Swenson, Warhol acknowledged, ``I realized that everything I was doing must have been Death. It was Labor Day and every time you turned on the radio they said something like, `Four million are going to die’. But when you see a gruesome picture over and over again, it doesn’t really have any effect.’’ (Gene Swenson, ``What is Pop Art?’’, Art News 62, November 1963, pp. 60-61). Yet, Warhol’s artistic concepts are never one-dimensional or straightforward. At the same time that the screen-printing process de-personalized his art, his images ironically remain subtly emotive.\nJackie Frieze beautifully captures this multi-layered complexity in Warhol’s artistic genius. The potent image of Jackie naturally triggers a strong emotional response to a personal moment shared by millions. The thirteen images unspool before us, as if they are frames from a documentary film, arrayed in a single row as if to imply that the image will continue into infinity. This open-ended infinity would seem to be Warhol’s ultimate statement that serialized compositions can de-sensitize the viewer to the innate humanity of the image. But Warhol took great care that Art, in the end, mutes the vulgar sensationalism of the source or the numbing quality of multiple images. Color, placement of the screen on each canvas, and the degree of registration in the act of screening are conscious choices by Warhol in Jackie Frieze. Furthermore, Warhol chose to reverse the image on three of the panels, creating pairs of canvases in which Jackie and the bystander in the background become mirror images at intervals throughout the frieze. The variations and sheer beauty of the monochromatic backgrounds appeal to our visual senses, while the close cropping of Jackie’s face increases the intimacy of the moment by placing her image so insistently in the foreground. The register of screening dots reminds us that this is a painting of a photograph, removing us an extra dimension away from the actual event, and opening the viewer and the subject to the exploitation of a mass media culture. But Warhol’s inventive aesthetic sense, amply on display in Jackie Frieze, will not allow his images to remain too impersonal or detached.\nTwo close associates of Warhol captured this dichotomy of the artist in separate observations.  Gerard Malanga, who assisted Warhol in screening of many of his major works of the 1960s, noted that Warhol was consumed by aesthetics and wanted to make his paintings ``pretty’’. On the other hand, Geldzahler commented on the potency of his subject matter. ``I don’t think [Warhol] was trying to make social statements in these paintings. I think that he’s turned on by certain images, and those images that turn him on are loaded, supercharged images. …What held his work together in all media was the absolute control Warhol had over his own sensibility, a sensibility as sweet and tough, as childish and commercial, as innocent and chic as anything in our culture.’’ (Victor Bokris, The Life and Death of Andy Warhol, New York, 1989, pp. 128-129)
US
NY, US
US

medium

Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas in thirteen parts

creator

Andy Warhol

dimensions

Each: 20 x 16 in. 50.8 x 40.6 cm.

exhibition

Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania, Institute of Contemporary Art, The Atmosphere of '64, April - June 1964 (incorrectly titled Jacqueline Kennedy) Venice, La Biennale di Venezia,  From Nature to Art, from Art to Nature (The Urban Iconosphere), Summer 1978, Warhol cat. no. 2, p. 55

literature

Rainer Crone, Andy Warhol, New York, 1970, cat. no. 114 Rainer Crone, Andy Warhol, New York, 1976, cat. no. 124 La Biennale di Venezia, Antenatura, 1978, pl. no. 112, illustrated Georg Frei and Neil Printz, eds., The Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonné: Paintings and Sculptures, Volume 2A: 1964 - 1969, New York, 2004, cat. no. 948, pp. 118 - 119, illustrated in color

provenance

Stable Gallery, New York Ileana Sonnabend, Paris E.J. Power, London Acquired by the present owner from the above circa 1965

consignmentDesignation

Property of a Private European Collector

creator_nationality_dates

1928 - 1987


*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.

*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.


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