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Special Report

“Image, Memory, Myth” at
The Andy Warhol Museum

Presidential motorcade in Dallas, November 22, 1963.
Courtesy Dallas Morning News.

Andy Warhol
Jackie, 1964
Copyright AWF
Courtesy The Andy Warhol Museum

LBJ being sworn in on board Air Force One.
Cecil W. Stoughton
courtesy Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

Andy Warhol
Flash-November 22, 1963, 1968
Copyright AWF.
Courtesy The Andy Warhol Museum


PITTSBURGH, PA.- To coincide with the 40th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, The Andy Warhol Museum will present the exhibition, November 22, 1963: Image, Memory, Myth from November 22, 2003 through March 21, 2004. Organized in collaboration with The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas, the exhibition presents the events surrounding the Kennedy assassination and the myth of the JFK era through hundreds of photographs, dozens of examples of broadcast and print media coverage, home movies, eyewitness testimonies, evidence, investigative committees’ reports, and ensuing conspiracy theories. From the unforgettable photograph of a young John F. Kennedy Jr. saluting his father’s casket, to the grainy stills of the infamous Zapruder film, images of the assassination have left an indelible mark on America’s shared memory. Through the interpretations of journalists, historians and artists including Andy Warhol, the exhibition examines how the power and drama of those images have shaped our understanding of the event and its impact.

On view throughout The Warhol’s sixth and seventh floor galleries, November 22, 1963: Image, Memory, Myth will open with a brief look at the Kennedy era. The exhibition will then delve into a presentation of the events of the assassination as they unfolded in Dallas. Well-known news photographs depict JFK and a smiling Jackie Kennedy deplaning from Air Force One at Dallas’ Love Field, police officers taking their places and excited bystanders awaiting the presidential motorcade on Elm Street. The photographs will also depict the panicked crowds, confused reporters and the shock, fear and sorrow of the nation as it learned that JFK had been shot. Video monitors in the exhibition space will feature selections from the unprecedented and nearly constant television coverage of the tragic event * from network reports to extensive, never-before-exhibited coverage from local Dallas stations.
Documents from federal investigations into the JFK assassination, the evidence that fueled them, and the ensuing conspiracy theories, will also be included in the exhibition. Several home movies, including footage by Orville Nix and the infamous Zapruder film, will be screened in the gallery space. Copies of the Warren Commission report, charts depicting the path of the "magic bullet" and large-scale photographic reproductions of the crime scene will invite visitors to draw their own conclusions about one of the most debated investigations of the twentieth century.

Visitors will also be encouraged to explore the concept of memory, particularly "flash bulb" memories * deep, vivid experiences of highly emotional events such as the JFK assassination. A compilation video of oral histories of the event, prepared by The Sixth Floor Museum, will be on view together with other personal stories and quotes drawn from those who remember the assassination.

According to Thomas Sokolowski, director of The Warhol and curator of the exhibition, "The JFK assassination is one of the few historical events that spurs immediate, vivid and personal memories among the Americans who experienced it. Four decades later, there are now several generations who did not live through that event. With this exhibition we want to look at what images and elements from the assassination live on and how the memories of those who were alive in 1963 shape the understanding of those who were not."

Several galleries will continue to explore memory through artist interpretations of the JFK assassination. Andy Warhol created two bodies of work related to event: a 1964 series of portraits of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, and the print portfolios known as Flash-November 22, 1963. 

Shortly after the assassination in 1963, Warhol set for himself the task of creating hundreds of small portraits of Jackie Kennedy as the grieving widow. Already the spin-doctor for every product, person and issue that dominated the 1960s, Warhol appreciated Jackie’s ability to use stagecraft and iconography in order to assure her husband’s legacy and craft a presidential myth so idealized that it was called Camelot. More than 50 paintings in the Jackie series, from the collection of The Warhol, will be on view in order to illustrate how Jackie Kennedy became the embodiment of the nation’s sorrow and an icon in Warhol’s oeuvre. Also on view in the exhibition will be two portfolios from Flash-November 22, 1963, a rarely-seen series of 11 screenprints with text that replicates news wire copy. The Flash series is an examination of the events of the assassination and its aftermath filtered through Warhol’s observations of the continuous barrage of media coverage.

Contemporary artists also continue to use the assassination and its memorable images as inspiration for their work. One such artist represented in the exhibition will be the Serbian-born Zoran Naskovski. In his acclaimed video piece, Death in Dallas, Naskovski pairs footage of JFK’s life and assassination with a Balkan ballad about tragedy.

The Andy Warhol Museum receives state arts funding support through a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. The 2003 exhibition program has been supported, in part, by The Juliet Lea Hillman Simonds Foundation, Inc.

Located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the place of Andy Warhol’s birth, The Warhol is one of the most comprehensive single-artist museums in the world. The Andy Warhol Museum is one of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh.

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