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Andy Warhol’s Flash 32 is part of a portfolio of eleven different screenprints based on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. The portfolio was named for all the “news flash” texts that were being broadcast at the time. Flash 32 is the first print in the portfolio. The title Flash – November 22, 1963 represents the date of the assassination and the constant news attention about the event. This print sets a somber tone as President Kennedy’s face is drowned in hues of black and dark grey, making him almost unrecognizable. The piece features a close-up of JFK’s smile; the emphasis on his smile highlights his charisma and almost puts the viewer under his spell, capturing the essence of the politician and engulfing the viewer in the “Kennedy Effect.”
FLASH 32 AS PART OF ANDY WARHOL’S LARGER BODY OF WORK:
Warhol’s Flash 32 has a clear connection to the work he did focusing on Jacqueline Kennedy, however now he is focusing on the man himself and the events surrounding his assassination. The piece captures the moment which enchanted most people at the time﹣the moment when the charming President Kennedy smiled. His infectious smile infected everyone who was exposed to it. The very dark filter on Flash 32 is symbolic of the doom that befell Kennedy in the form of his murder. Warhol is beginning to observe American society including its relationship with the media and its obsession with tragedy, which he continues to return to in later works.