Flash - November 22, 1963, 1968
portfolio of 11 serigraphs on wove paper
53.2 x 53.2 cm each
National Gallery of Canada (no. 16590.1-11)
© Andy Warhol Foundation for the Arts / ARS (New York) / SODRAC (Montréal)
This series commemorates the assassination of President John. F. Kennedy, though it is less about his death than the media's interpretation of it. Andy Warhol had 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 that the television and radio were programming everybody to feel so sad." Warhol was fascinated by the media's power to create icons through the repeated exposure of particular images. Its bombarding of the American populace with coverage of the assassination and funeral for days transformed the president and his wife, Jacqueline, into commodities to be consumed by the public. The silk-screened photographs in "Flash" were drawn from news reports that related to Kennedy and his shooting (including stills from his election campaign, a photograph of his suspected killer, Lee Harvey Oswald, and an advertisement for the type of rifle that became the murder weapon). In contrast to the media, Warhol depicted these images of a tragic event in inappropriately vibrant, candy-wrapper colours, converting them into icons of Pop Art.