John F. Kennedy Official White House Portrait
On this 50th anniversary of President Kennedy's assassination I wanted to highlight this portrait which has always fascinated me. Painted posthumously in 1970 by Aaron Shikler, a famous American portrait artist. The painting has a haunting quality and created quite a stir when first released. The image of a world leader looking down with hands folded broke from the centuries old tradition of a strong forward facing portrait of a man with arms by his side, looking forward with power and confidence. The eyes of Kennedy are not even seen as if to convey his distance from us and the defeat of his rule. It's an appropriately shockingly sad image. One that makes the viewer ask what is wrong with this man, what happened? Jacqueline Kennedy personally selected Shikler and gave her approval of the finished work. GL
President John F. Kennedy was a lifelong supporter and advocate of the arts, and frequently steered the public discourse toward what he called "our contribution to the human spirit." Kennedy took the lead in raising funds for the new National Cultural Center...
...Two months after President Kennedy's assassination in November 1963, Congress designated the National Cultural Center (designed by Edward Durell Stone) as a "living memorial" to Kennedy, and authorized $23 million to help build what was now known as the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. (from the Kennedy Center Website)
Below are quotes from President Kennedy on the Arts;
"Art is the great democrat, calling forth creative genius from every sector of society, disregarding race or religion or wealth or color."
"If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him."
"Above all, we are coming to understand that the arts incarnate the creativity of a free people. When the creative impulse cannot flourish, when it cannot freely select its methods and objects, when it is deprived of spontaneity, then society severs the root of art."
"To further the appreciation of culture among all the people. To increase respect for the creative individual, to widen participation by all processes and fulfillment's of art - This is one of the fascinating challenges of these days."
"The life of the artist is, in relation to his work, stern and lonely. He has labored hard, often amid deprivation, to perfect his skill. He has turned aside from quick success in order to strip his vision of everything secondary or cheapening. His working life is marked by intensive application and intense discipline."
"The highest duty of the writer, the composer, the artist is to remain true to himself and let the chips fall where they may."