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WARHOL PORTRAIT OF EDWARD KENNEDY ON VIEW AT NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY

By Culturekiosque Staff

WASHINGTON, DC, 29 AUGUST 2009 - The Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery has installed a portrait of Senator Edward Kennedy by Andy Warhol. It is on view in a first-floor gallery that is designated for remembrance of recently deceased individuals represented in the gallery's collection.


Andy Warhol: Edward Moore Kennedy
Screenprint with diamond dust on board, 1980
The National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
© The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.
Photo courtesy of The National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

Warhol's silkscreened portrait of Kennedy was created in 1980 to raise funds for Kennedy's campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. A special feature of the print is Warhol's use of the colors of the American flag and diamond dust. The Portrait Gallery acquired the portrait in 2000.

Elected to the United States Senate in 1962, Edward Kennedy owed his early success to his close identification with his elder brothers, President John F. Kennedy, whose Senate term he completed, and Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. Praising their commitment to public service, he acknowledged, "I'm very proud of that association."

Kennedy built on this legacy when he sought the presidency in 1980. Andy Warhol's silkscreened portrait, created as a campaign fund-raiser, plays off the colors of the American flag and suggests the glamour of politics by enhancing the candidate's features with thin red and blue lines and diamond dust.

Although the Democratic nomination ultimately went to the incumbent President, Jimmy Carter whom Warhol had portrayed four years earlier, the long-serving senator was nevertheless an influential leader in his party.

Kennedy was elected to a full six-year term in 1964 and was reelected seven more times. His reputation was tarnished by the 1969 Chappaquiddick incident, which resulted in the death of automobile passenger Mary Jo Kopechne; Kennedy pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident. Though it did not affect his standing in the Senate, the incident significantly damaged his popularity nationally, and Kennedy never appeared on his party's presidential ticket.

Known for his oratorical skills, Kennedy's 1968 eulogy for his brother Robert and his 1980 Democratic National Convention rallying cry for American liberalism were among his best-known speeches. He became known as "The Lion of the Senate" through his long tenure and influence. More than 300 bills that Kennedy and his staff wrote were enacted into law. He was known for working with Republicans and finding compromises among senators with disparate views. Kennedy played a major role in passing many laws, including laws addressing immigration, cancer research, health insurance, apartheid, disability discrimination, AIDS care, civil rights, mental health benefits, children's health insurance, education and volunteering. In the 2000s, he led several unsuccessful immigration reform efforts. In 2002, the American senator was the first to argue and voted against the war in Iraq.

Kennedy's endorsement for the then Senator Barack Obama of Illinois in a speech at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, was perceived by many in America as "the passing of the torch" of the Kennedy brothers legacy. At the time of his death, Edward Kennedy was continuing to work on universal health care legislation, which is often described as his "life's work." So much so, that it appears all but certain the proposed changes to the American health care system will likely now be known as "Teddy Care," - even if only informally - in recognition of the Senator's efforts.

The bitter battle over health care reform continues to rage in the United States, where there is an absence of universal coverage for its citizens, and where some 45 million Americans live without health coverage, not to mention those Americans "fortunate" enough to have coverage that can consume an onerous portion of a household income. In 2000, the U.S. health care system ranked 37th in an assessment of 191 countries by the World Health Organization (WHO).

In May 2008, Kennedy was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor which limited his appearances in the Senate. He died on August 25, 2009, at his home in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts and was interred in Arlington National Cemetery, beside his brothers John and Robert, on August 29th..

Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery
Eighth and F Streets NW
Washington D.C., 20001
11:30 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. daily
Tel: (1) 202 633 83 00

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