(American, born 1952)
1992. Xerox, composition 16 x 20 9/16" (40.7 x 52.3 cm)
In 1992, Kass embarked on The Warhol Project, a multiyear series responding to the celebrity portraits of Pop artist Andy Warhol. In Jewish Jackie, Kass takes Warhol’s paintings that repeat an image of former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in profile and replaces her with actress and singer Barbra Streisand. While growing up as a Jewish American girl, Kass noticed that people on television and in movies looked different than she did. Streisand, also Jewish, was someone with whom she could identify: “I had never seen a movie star that looked like Barbra, which is to say that looked like me and everyone I knew,”1 she says.
Kass’s work could be considered both an homage to Andy Warhol and a critique of exclusionary depictions of glamour and beauty in mainstream media. For Kass, appropriating Warhol’s work allowed her to insert aspects her identity into the history of art: “In my own work I replace Andy’s male homosexual desire with my own specificity: Jew love, female voice, and blatant lesbian diva worship.”2
A work of art made from paint applied to canvas, wood, paper, or another support (noun).
A form, sign, or emblem that represents something else, often something immaterial, such as an idea or emotion.
A side view, usually referring to that of a human head.
A representation of a particular individual, usually intended to capture their likeness or personality.
A movement comprising initially British, then American artists in the 1950s and 1960s. Pop artists borrowed imagery from popular culture—from sources including television, comic books, and print advertising—often to challenge conventional values propagated by the mass media, from notions of femininity and domesticity to consumerism and patriotism. Their often subversive and irreverent strategies of appropriation extended to their materials and methods of production, which were drawn from the commercial world.
As an artistic strategy, the intentional borrowing, copying, and alteration of preexisting images, objects, and ideas.
An American Icon
Warhol began using images of Jacqueline Kennedy—affectionately known as “Jackie” by the public—after the 1963 assassination of her husband, President John F. Kennedy. Jacqueline Kennedy was a fashion icon, beloved for her elegant style. On the day of President Kennedy’s death, she wore a pink Chanel suit and pillbox hat, which became a fashion icon and symbol of the national tragedy.
Kass said, “Barbra’s ‘difference’ was clear to everyone from the beginning. She celebrated her difference, while my parents thought she was ugly. If she could look the way she looked and be fabulous, then I could too.”3