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Warhol Portrait of Kennedy Draws Admirers

As she walked by Andy Warhol’s portrait of Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) in a corridor of the National Portrait Gallery on Thursday, Nichola Long paused. The large piece, created as a fundraiser during Kennedy’s failed 1980 presidential bid, hangs on a wall with the words “In Memoriam— written above it.“To see all that the Kennedy family has been through and what he’s contributed — that’s significant to me,— said Long, who was born in Jamaica and lives in Florida. “The support that he gave the Democratic Party — [he was] a big part of Obama.—Long, like so many others who passed by the portrait, took out her digital camera and snapped a photo of the late Senator as depicted by Warhol. This painting of Kennedy is a staple of the museum’s permanent collection and has been in storage at the gallery for over a year. Upon hearing of the Senator’s death on Tuesday night, curators dusted off the work of art and hung it as a tribute. Kennedy, 77, died after a more than yearlong struggle with brain cancer.“Warhol loved depicting celebrities,— said Carolyn Kinder Carr, deputy director and chief curator at the gallery. “And clearly he saw Kennedy as having all the power and glamour that goes with being well-known and admired by the general public.—Kennedy’s portrait was unveiled on Thursday morning much to the surprise and delight of those who visited the museum. Many people marveled at the speed with which it was displayed, while others commented on how well it depicted the veteran Democratic Senator.“He represents a period of time when America really transformed in a positive way, and he had a lot to do with it,— D.C. resident Kelly Ross said. “I think it really captures him.—Warhol’s piece depicts Kennedy through a black and white screen print with blue and red “diamond dust— outlining his face and hair. While subdued, the diamond dust catches the light and sparkles, adding to the celebrity so often associated with the Kennedy family.“A hallmark of Warhol’s style was the imaginative ways in which he animated a face,— Carr says. “With the Kennedy portrait, he used the colors of the American flag and diamond dust to energize his image and suggest the patriotic nature of his campaign.—As visitors to the gallery passed by the portrait, they reflected on Kennedy’s legacy after serving 47 years in the Senate. Some noted their sorrow that Kennedy died in the midst of the vicious debate over health care reform, his life’s passion.“I think it’s very sad that he didn’t get to see health care passed,— said Michael Frisch, a professor at Georgetown Law Center.Leela Mahabir, who was visiting D.C. from Canada, echoed the sentiment: “I think he accomplished a lot, and I seriously hope his health care issue goes through.—The public’s relationship with Kennedy goes beyond health care legislation, however. Having lived much of his life in front of the media’s peering eyes, there is little about Kennedy and his family that has gone undocumented. From traveling to England when he was a child where his father served as ambassador to giving his brother Robert F. Kennedy’s eulogy to delivering a rousing speech in support of then-candidate Barack Obama at the 2008 Democratic National Convention, Kennedy has been a household name.“The family has been so interesting and had so many issues that they were always in our news,— said Mary Dunn of Westminster, Mass. “I feel sad.—The portrait of Kennedy will hang in the museum indefinitely.

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