Jackie in Mourning, 2005 Oil on Linen 64 × 32 inches
Jackie in Mourning, 2005
Oil on Linen 64 × 32 inches

I’m a huge Fassbinder fan, and at the end of one of his stories, everybody always dies or comes to a horrible end. But then hopefully from the ruin of that, you can learn about, just like any ruin, the culture in which that ruin began and try not to do the same thing. I’m consciously thinking about Warhol and feel like Warhol really loved the figures that he was painting. I think Warhol’s story was that he was this poor pockmarked kid from Pittsburgh who loved Marilyn Monroe and wanted to be like Marilyn Monroe… and by the painting of her, maybe he became like that.

When he did Jackie, he would repeat them endlessly, and I felt like he participated in not what he was critiquing, but maybe embellishing…

Walter Benjamin, in Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction mentions when actors are constantly under the camera’s gaze they lose something of their agency as they’re put into these films… It becomes more about the director than they as people. And by constantly replicating Jackie, Warhol, over and over again, he is sort of doing what capital did to these people already. If Warhol is taking Jackie out of her context of her real funeral, and just making it a chic image—you know, of course I love him and I think he’s great—but I think at the same time its not about who Jackie was as a person…

What happens is the risk of that redundancy that we lose who they are as people or we forget their history. What I think for me is important, is to bring back who they were as people, and like any portraitist, try to essentialize what it was about them that made them so great. When I made this image, I was trying to get back to the real feelings that the Kennedy’s had for this real event that changed history and the real funeral where they, the nation, and the world was mourning the loss of this great leader who meant so much for the world, and his wife who carried the strength and resolve and positive ideology that she continued to bring to the all the important, great work she did in her life.
(excerpted from an interview with Ross Bleckner in 2006 for show catalog)