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A Generous VisionThe Creative Life of Elaine de Kooning$
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Cathy Curtis

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190498474

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190498474.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 05 August 2021

Painting the President

Painting the President

(p.157) 9 Painting the President
A Generous Vision

Cathy Curtis

Oxford University Press

Elaine’s dealer, Robert Graham, had offered to donate a portrait of President Kennedy to the Harry S. Truman Library. Agreement to this plan was based on her ability to work very quickly. In late December 1962, Elaine arrived at the Winter White House in Palm Springs, California. She was dazzled by JFK. But he was constantly in motion, sitting casually, and likely to show up in sports clothes. Back in New York, Elaine painted dozens of canvases that dissatisfied her. A presidential advisor complained about JFK’s pose. She finally produced a suitable portrait; two months later, Kennedy was assassinated. Grieving, Elaine was unable to paint for a year. A Life magazine story about the portrait ran on May 8, 1964. The Truman Library finally accepted one of the paintings in February 1965, but the portrait now in the National Portrait Gallery is her triumph, a blaze of light and energy.

Keywords:   Robert Graham, Harry S. Truman Library, President Kennedy, Winter White House, Life magazine, National Portrait Gallery

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