Elaine de Kooning, known for her contemporary, gestural portraits, was chosen in 1962 to create a portrait of President Kennedy for the Truman Library because she worked quickly. She had seven informal sessions in Palm Beach, Florida, with Kennedy at the end of December and early January of 1963. De Kooning was so moved by Kennedy that over the next ten months she created hundreds of drawings and twenty-three paintings of him. This full-length image captures Kennedy's restless energy, and its colors evoke a coolness and detachment not always obvious to his admirers. De Kooning loved "the feeling of the outdoors he radiated" and noted that "on the patio . . . where we often sat . . . he was enveloped by the green of the leaves and the golden light of the sun." After Kennedy's assassination on November 22, 1963, the artist stopped painting for a year.


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