- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 13, 2003

The presidential box at Ford's Theater, where Abraham Lincoln was felled by an assassin's bullet, is walled off from visitors and patrons. Though the theater may still put on plays, Lincoln's box is off-limits.
It's a sacred space.
In Dallas, the sixth floor of the former Texas School Book Depository the "sniper's perch" from which Lee Harvey Oswald shot and killed President Kennedy, is a museum.
It, too, is a sacred space, devoted to chronicling the history of that momentous event and its impact on the nation.
Yet starting March 21 and running through Oct. 26, the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza will be displaying an exhibition that some may find puzzling: "Warhol and Jackie: Artist and Icon."
The museum will display ironic pop artist Andy Warhol's "Flash November 22, 1963," a portfolio of 11 color screen prints that replicate news wire copy, as well as a host of the artist's portraits of Jacqueline Kennedy.
Jeff West, executive director of the Sixth Floor Museum, defends the exhibit, saying it's an appropriate method of examining the nation's collective memory of the event.
"There's plenty of precedent for showing Warhol's work," Mr. West says from Dallas, pointing out that the National Portrait Gallery exhibited "Flash" in 1998, the 35th anniversary of the assassination.
The late Mr. Warhol, who himself was shot and nearly killed in 1968, was raised a Byzantine Catholic, a tradition that he brought to bear on his Jackie portraits, according to Mr. West. The repetition of the images and their color schemes mirrors Byzantine depictions of saints, he says.
But according to the text accompanying the National Portrait Gallery's 1998 exhibition,"[Mr. Warhols] subject was not so much the events themselves as the continuous barrage of print and broadcast media coverage. Warhol was fascinated by the omnipresent emotional power of the media."
Mr. Warhol would later recall, "It seemed like no matter how hard you tried, you couldn't get away from the thing."
Mr. West, though, maintains that although the pop artist may have been intrigued by the mass effect of the assassination, Mr. Warhol took a more solemn approach to his paintings of the late first lady.
"Warhol was recognizing Jackie's role as mourner in chief that weekend," he says. "The guy had a very reverent approach to the images of loss. The palette is very constricted, compared to the hypercolor of his previous work. The images are very moving."
"Warhol and Jackie: Artist and Icon" will travel to the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination.

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