"A portrait is a picture in which there is just a tiny little something not quite right about the mouth." -- John Singer Sargent

Thursday, November 2, 2017

John F. Kennedy

This 1963 painting of John F. Kennedy by Elaine de Kooning hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC
“When John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, the country experienced a collective sense of grief that it had not known since the death of Abraham Lincoln. Many Americans found it hard to cope with the sudden loss of this youthful, energetic president whose speeches had inspired citizens to achieve high ideals. In his shortened tenure as president, Kennedy proposed landmark civil-rights legislation, created the Peace Corps, and promoted the goal of landing on the moon.

In foreign policy, his administration peacefully resolved a dramatic stand-off with the Soviet Union over the presence of missiles in Cuba, and he oversaw the buildup of the American presence in Vietnam.

Elaine de Kooning, known for her gestural portraits, held several informal sessions with him in Palm Beach, Florida, in December 1962 and January 1963. The artist was so moved by the president during these sittings that she went on to create dozens of drawings and paintings of him over the next ten months.” -- National Portrait Gallery
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Also in the National Portrait Gallery is this 1963 charcoal sketch of JFK, also by de Kooning entitled "John F. Kennedy No. 3".

“When Elaine de Kooning met with John F. Kennedy in 1962 and 1963, she made a number of small drawings of his features. Some of her images depict the president's entire face, but others, like this one, focus primarily on his eyes. De kooning recalled that many of her sketches combined her own observations with images that registered in her memory, partly because the president was always shifting and moving in front of her. She was particularly concerned with capturing his expressions and his eyes. She noted, ‘you never know where “likeness” will reside’ adding ‘it would be possible to portray the man by drawing or painting only his eyes, so that he would be recognized instantly.’” – National Portrait Gallery

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