Daisy v. Jones

Jacqueline Kennedy at John F Kennedy’s funeral in Arlington, Virginia, 25 November 1963. Photograph: Elliott Erwitt/Magnum Photos

Jacqueline Kennedy at John F Kennedy’s funeral in Arlington, Virginia, 25 November 1963. Photograph: Elliott Erwitt/Magnum Photos

I think Jonathan Jones gets it profoundly wrong when he describes what makes Elliott Erwitt's heart-wrenching historic photo the truly great moment-capture that it is. (Click here for his critique in The Guardian, or see the extract below.) It's not Jackie's veiled grief-stricken face offset by the decorated soldier behind her, nor is it Bobby's little-boy-lost faraway look... The powerfulness in Erwitt's image lies in that desolate, focus-less chasm between JFK's beloved significant pair – starkly showing us the space he once held.

I'm no art critic by any stretch but Jones, IMHO, really is pants at critiquing photography. And why he thought it useful to compare this photograph to Warhol's Jackie screenprints is a mystery to me...

Many harrowing photographs were taken that day – but the most powerful is by Erwitt.

It portrays Jackie Kennedy with a soldier standing just behind her, his glittering insignia contrasting with the deep black hat and veil she wears. Yet what makes the picture extraordinary is what Erwitt sees through the veil. He captures the expression on Jackie Kennedy’s face with harrowing precision. Her features are scrunched up, her facial muscles collapsing in grief. Her eyes tell a story of unbelievable sorrow. Her mouth is a broken harp of sheer despair.

If I had to compare this photograph with a painting, it would be Picasso’s Weeping Woman in the Tate. Both pictures penetrate the heart of grief. They reveal in a human face all the violence and cruelty of the world, and what it does to people.

Yet anyone familiar with modern art will recognise a more obvious similarity. Andy Warhol made a series of paintings of Jackie Kennedy at Arlington. He derived them from photographs in Life magazine, which he turned into silkscreens and transferred on to canvas as black images on blue and white.
— Jonathan Jones, Art Critic, The Guardian