Object Image

John F. Kennedy #3

Born Brookline Massachusetts

When Elaine de Kooning met with John F. Kennedy in 1962 and 1963, she made a number of small drawings of his features. Some of her images depict the president’s entire face, but others, like this one, focus primarily on his eyes. De Kooning recalled that many of her sketches combined her own observations with images that registered in her memory, partly because the president was always shifting and moving in front of her. She was particularly concerned about capturing his expressions and his eyes. She noted, “you never know where ‘likeness’ will reside,” adding, “It would be possible to portray the man by drawing or painting only his eyes, so that he would be recognized instantly.”

Charcoal on paper
17.0 x 14.0in
Image and text © National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, 2023

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