Flash-November 22, 1963, 1968; Screenprint on wove paper, an unsigned proof apart from the signed edition of 200; Housed in original folder with a page of Teletype text; Published by Racolin Press, Inc., Briarcliff Manor, New York; Printed by Aetna Silkscreen Products, Inc., New York; Size - Sheet 21" x 21"; Catalog Raisonne: Feldman/Schellmann: II.42; Unframed.
John F. Kennedy’s assassination on November 22, 1963 shocked the nation and sent a wave of mourning across the country. Andy Warhol, who was just 35 years old, stated:
"I heard the news over the radio when I was alone painting in my studio. 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 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 the 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…. John Quinn, the playwright … was moaning over and over, “But Jackie was the most glamorous First Lady we’ll every get.”"
Warhol immediately launched into a series of Jackie Kennedy portraits entitled “16 Jackies” that, in his typical fashion, expressed as he stated “detachment from emotions," an attitude he regarded as characteristic of the 1960s in general. Warhol often used tragic or horrific events that appeared in the media as source material for artwork. For Warhol, “the more you look at exactly the same thing, the more the meaning goes away and the better and emptier you feel.”
Andy Warhol would become obsessed, just like most of the world of the early 1960's, with the Kennedy assassination; and especially the media’s reporting and it's representation. The event and those involved, became the subject of creative output for Warhol throughout the 1960s. In 1966 Warhol created three prints focusing on Jacqueline Kennedy. The source of the images were either taken from the Dealey Plaza event or from JFK’s funeral service.
Two years later, Warhol returned to the same subject, but now focusing on the assassination itself. He created “Flash-November 23, 1963”, a portfolio of eleven individual prints. For source material, Warhol turned to the primary media of the time: newspaper articles, official government photographs, and portraits of President Kennedy and the First Lady. The 1968 portfolio was named for "News Flash," Teletype machine texts that were used to report the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in real time. The print portfolio box cover included an image of the November 22, 1963, New York World-Telegram front page, with the headline "President Shot Dead." Serigraphed actual Teletype texts were used as print folders for each individual work.
Andy Warhol used eleven different images, each created in bright bold colors to illustrate the horrific event. Some of the images are a smiling John F. Kennedy as he campaigns for the presidency, while another is a collage of Kennedy’s campaign images combined with that of a director’s clapboard. One print is the official Seal of the President of the United States, while another is the rifle advertisement for the suspected murder weapon. There is an image of the assassin Lee Harvey Oswald created in bright neon pink, an image of the Texas School Book Depository with an arrow pointing to a window on the sixth floor, and another with a centered image of a smiling Jackie wearing her iconic pillbox hat. In the eleven prints of "Flash-November 23, 1963," Andy Warhol created an extremely poignant, yet powerful glimpse into an American event that had been both covered extensively and exploited by the media. The underlying reality was that the hope of America for a better tomorrow was shattered in a flash; and the dream replaced by one of the saddest events of the twentieth century.
This work is composed of a pair of mirror images of a smiling John F. Kennedy, combined with text banners of Kennedy for President. The choice of colors (red and blue) creates an optical effect, which significantly enhances the power of the images. A really spectacular work, from one of the greatest series of prints ever created by Andy Warhol!
The Teletype text printed on two pages of the print folders is below (Note: Misspelled words in the original text were not corrected nor was the original spacing):
BULLETIN 2ND LEAD OSWALD
DALLAS, NOV. 24 -- LEE HARVEY OSWALD, ACCUSED SLAYER OF PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY, DIED TODAY IN PARKLAND HOSPITAL, WHERE THE LATE PRESIDENT WAS PRONOUNCED DEAD XXXX TWO DAYS AGO.
WASHINGTON, NOV X 24 -- AS GREAT LINES OF PEOPLE FILED PAST THE BIER OF PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY -- LONG PAST THE SCHEDULED 9:00 P.M. CLOSING TIME -- MRS. JACQUELINE KENNEDY AN HER XXX BOROTHER-IN-LAW, ATTORNEY XXXXX GENERAL ROBERT F. KENNEDY, RETURNED TO THE CAPTIAL ROTUNDA TONIGHT.
MRS. KENNEDY WALKED THROUGH THE HUGE THRONG, PAUSED FOR A MOMENT IN FRONT OF THEX CATAFALQUE AND THEN LEFT. ON HER WAY OUT, SHE PAUSED AGAIN AND STARED AT THE XXXXX HUSHED THRONG. THEN SHE AND THE ATTORNEY GENERAL WALKED DOWN CAPITOL HILL AND ACROSS A LAWN TO A WAITING LIMOUSINE.
WASHINGTON, NOV. 23 -- PRESIDENT JOHN FITZGERALD KENNEDY WAS BURIED TODAY IN ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY.
THE XXX SLAIN PRESIDENT WAS LAID TO REST AT 3:34 P.M. (EST) ON A GRASSY SLOPE WITHIN VIEW OF THE LINCOLN MEMORIAL AND THE CAPITOL.
MR. KENNEDY'S BODY, WHICH HAD BEEN CARRIED FROM THE CAPITAL ROTUNDA THIS MORNING WAS XXXX TAKEN FIRST TO ST. MATTHEW'S ROMAN CATHOLIC CATHEDRAL, WHERE A PONTIFICAL XXX REQUIEM MASS WAS SAID BY RICHARD CARDINAL CUSHING OF BOSTON. FROM THERE, THE CORTEGE PROCEEDED TO THE NATIONAL CEMETERY, WHERE CARDINAL CUSHING INTOLED THE ANTIENT LATIN PHRASES AND REFERRED TO THE ASSASSINATED PRESIDENT AS "THIS WONDERFUL MAN, JACK KENNEDY."
THE DAY STARTED AT 10:41 A.M., WHEN MRS. JACQUELINE KENNEDY, ACCOMPANIED BY ATTORNEY GENERAL ROBERT F. KENNEDY AND SENATOR EDWARD XXX M. KENNEDY, ENTERED THE ROTUNDA AND KNELT FOR A MOMENT BESIDE THE SLAIN PRESIDENT'S CASKET. EIGHT XX PALLBEARERS THEN CARRIED THE CASKET DOWN THE CAPITOL STEPS THROUGH LINES OF SENTINELS FROM ALL ARMED SERVICES, AND PLACED IT ON THE CASSON THAT HAD BROUGHT IT TO THE CAPITOL ON SUNDAY. SIX GRAY HORSES PULLED THE CAISSON, FOLLOWED BY A SAILOR CARRYING THE PRESIDENTIAL FLAG AND A RIDERLESS HORSE, WITH BOOTS REVERSED IN THE STIRRUPS, TO SIGNIFY THE LOSS OF A LEADER.
THE PROCESSION MOVED PAST THE WHITE HOUSE, WHERE WORLD LEADERS WHO HAD COME TO WASHINGTON FOR THE FUNERAL, WAITED XX FOR MRS. KENNEDY TO COME OUT OF THE WHITEHOUSE AND THEN FELL INTO LINE BEHIND THE CORTEGE. ABOUT FIVE YARDS BEHIND THE KENNEDY FAMILY WERE PRESIDENT AND MRS. JOHNSON, WHO WERE SURROUNDED BY SECURITY AGENTS.
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