© The Artist


Mark Lancaster (1938 – )


172.7 X 213.4 CM
Accession number


Zapruder 1967 is the first of a group of paintings, watercolors and lithographs of the same title and similar composition. Sometime in 1966 or 67 Lifemagazine published the frame by frame stills of the 8 mm film Abraham Zapruder made in Dallas on November 22, 1963, which captured the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

I had been making paintings involving a geometric division of the canvas using various grid systems, based usually on found objects such as postcards showing more than one image. I was struck by the images in Life magazine, and their emotional content. I remembered the moment when I first heard of the tragic event of November 1963, and I had been an admirer of JFK since the 1960 election. I had also made my first visit to the USA in summer 1964, when the nation was in the election campaign for President, with Barry Goldwater challenging Lyndon Johnson, and, in New York, Bobby Kennedy running for the Senate. I had seen him and helped to hand out buttons for him at Grand Central Station one day. I had also spent time at Andy Warhol's Factory, and helped to make paintings of Jackie Kennedy, some based on photgraphs of her at her husband's funeral. But it was not the content so much as the pattern of the repeated frames spread over page after page, with the white grid and curved corners of each frame, and the predominant color of the grassy knoll, that gave me the idea of making a painting called Zapruder, which seemed the only possible title.

Compositionally, the painting is of a regularly repeated grid, starting at the upper left, and deliberately interrupted by the right hand side edge of the canvas, and the bottom edge, so as to imply a greater number of 'frames' than are shown. I made a colour to correspond to the color of the 'grassy knoll' in the background, which varies in the frames of the movie, and mixed and remixed paint for each rectangle from memory, rather than looking at the previous rectangle.

Richard Morphet wrote in Studio International, June 1969 (in "Mark Lancaster's painting since 1967"): "In the Zapruder paintings...programme (the particular Life magazine source, the therefore fixed dimensions of the grid, the pre-ordained sequence of painting rectangles and the schedule of mixing paint) interacts with chance (shades of green beyond precise control, truncation of modules where they chance to reach the canvas edge) with particular directness. They also involve concern with a particular shape having an obsessive character partly dependent for its operation on an emotional cause (the peculiarly personal impact of this murder and gratuitous loss) yet dependent for expression on having a deliberately neutral anti-emotional form. These paintings are not about this assassination, but they would not have taken this form without it; its role in them is thus both critical and inessential"

Letter from the artist, November 2005