Stop-Action Reaction – Jacqueline Kennedy, King of Hearts
1997, oil and acrylic on canvas, 70 x 56”
In the 1940s, Harold Edgerton invented stroboscopic photography, which allowed him to create “stop-action” images such as a bullet piercing a card. In 1963, television made it possible for an entire nation to witness the stop-action assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and Jackie’s reaction. In a deck of cards, the King of Hearts is the “suicide king” — so-called because he is nearly always thrusting a sword through his head.
Some called JFK suicidal because he insisted on riding in public without bulletproof protection. I painted two swords for the theory that two bullets were fired from different directions. This painting represents the instant President Kennedy was hit. Jackie doesn’t know what has happened yet, but she knows it’s bad. The painting is meant to capture the last moment of innocence for Jackie — and for an entire generation.