"The more you look at the same exact thing, the more the meaning goes away and the better and emptier you feel."--Andy Warhol, 1975
For Warhol and fellow Pop artists, reproducing images from popular culture was the visual means for expressing detachment from emotions, an attitude they regarded as characteristic of the 1960s. Like droning newscasts, repetition dissipates meaning and with it the capacity of images to move or disturb. Warhol created 16 Jackies in response to the November 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy, an event whose mass-media coverage reached an unparalleled number of people.
The four images of Jacqueline Kennedy, each repeated four times, were enlargements of news photographs that appeared widely and continually in the media after the assassination. Taken from issues of Life magazine, the images depict, from top to bottom: Jackie stepping off the plane upon arrival at Love Field in Dallas; stunned at the swearing-in ceremony for Lyndon B. Johnson aboard Air Force One after the president's death; grieving at the Capitol; and smiling in the limousine before the assassination. 16 Jackies combines a number of themes important in Warhol's work, such as his fascination with American icons and celebrities, his interest in the mass media and the dissemination of imagery, and his preoccupation with death.