By Culturekiosque Staff
WASHINGTON, DC, 29 AUGUST 2009 - The
Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery has installed a
portrait of Senator Edward Kennedy by Andy Warhol. It is on
view in a first-floor gallery that is designated for
remembrance of recently deceased individuals represented in the
Andy Warhol: Edward Moore Kennedy
Screenprint with diamond dust on board, 1980
The National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Â© The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.
Photo courtesy of The National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian
Warhol's silkscreened portrait of Kennedy was created in 1980
to raise funds for Kennedy's campaign for the Democratic
presidential nomination. A special feature of the print is
Warhol's use of the colors of the American flag and diamond
dust. The Portrait Gallery acquired the portrait in 2000.
Elected to the United States Senate in 1962, Edward Kennedy
owed his early success to his close identification with his
elder brothers, President John F. Kennedy, whose Senate term he
completed, and Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. Praising
their commitment to public service, he acknowledged, "I'm very
proud of that association."
Kennedy built on this legacy when he sought the presidency in
1980. Andy Warhol's silkscreened portrait, created as a
campaign fund-raiser, plays off the colors of the American flag
and suggests the glamour of politics by enhancing the
candidate's features with thin red and blue lines and diamond
Although the Democratic nomination ultimately went to the
incumbent President, Jimmy Carter whom Warhol had portrayed
four years earlier, the long-serving senator was nevertheless
an influential leader in his party.
Kennedy was elected to a full six-year term in 1964 and was
reelected seven more times. His reputation was tarnished by the
1969 Chappaquiddick incident, which resulted in the death of
automobile passenger Mary Jo Kopechne; Kennedy pleaded guilty
to leaving the scene of an accident. Though it did not affect
his standing in the Senate, the incident significantly damaged
his popularity nationally, and Kennedy never appeared on his
party's presidential ticket.
Known for his oratorical skills, Kennedy's 1968 eulogy for his
brother Robert and his 1980 Democratic National Convention
rallying cry for American liberalism were among his best-known
speeches. He became known as "The Lion of the Senate" through
his long tenure and influence. More than 300 bills that Kennedy
and his staff wrote were enacted into law. He was known for
working with Republicans and finding compromises among senators
with disparate views. Kennedy played a major role in passing
many laws, including laws addressing immigration, cancer
research, health insurance, apartheid, disability
discrimination, AIDS care, civil rights, mental health
benefits, children's health insurance, education and
volunteering. In the 2000s, he led several unsuccessful
immigration reform efforts. In 2002, the American senator was
the first to argue and voted against the war in Iraq.
Kennedy's endorsement for the then Senator Barack Obama of
Illinois in a speech at the 2008 Democratic
National Convention in Denver, was perceived by many in America
as "the passing of the torch" of the Kennedy brothers legacy.
At the time of his death, Edward Kennedy was continuing to work
on universal health care legislation, which is often described
as his "life's work." So much so, that it appears all but
certain the proposed changes to the American health care system
will likely now be known as "Teddy Care," - even if only
informally - in recognition of the Senator's efforts.
The bitter battle over health care reform continues to rage in
the United States, where there is an absence of universal
coverage for its citizens, and where some 45 million Americans
live without health coverage, not to mention those Americans
"fortunate" enough to have coverage that can consume an onerous
portion of a household income. In 2000, the U.S. health care
system ranked 37th in an assessment of 191 countries by the
World Health Organization (WHO).
In May 2008, Kennedy was
diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor which limited his
appearances in the Senate. He died on August 25, 2009, at his home in
Hyannis Port, Massachusetts and was interred in Arlington
National Cemetery, beside his brothers John and Robert, on
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