The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery celebrates the life and legacy of Robert (“Bobby”) Kennedy with a portrait created by Roy Lichtenstein in 1968, commissioned for the cover of Time magazine.
After winning the California presidential primary, Kennedy was assassinated June 5, 1968, ending one of the most interesting political careers in modern American history and further draping the legacy of the Kennedy family in mourning. The younger brother of President John F. Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy, who opposed the Johnson administration’s Vietnam War policies and was markedly progressive, had served as the U.S. attorney general (1961–64) and as a senator from New York (1965–1968).
Lichtenstein created this portrait for the cover of Time magazine’s May 24, 1968, edition. His Pop art style and bright colors create a sense of energy that evokes the young presidential hopeful’s personality. Kennedy told Lichtenstein that while he approved of the picture, “I don’t have red spots all over my face.” Shortly after Kennedy was shot, Time commissioned another cover from Lichtenstein to highlight the issue of gun control. The Portrait Gallery’s collection holds over 2,000 original artworks created for Time.