Time magazine’s editors commissioned Roy Lichtenstein to create this cover portrait of Senator Robert Kennedy for its May 24, 1968, edition. It was issued in the midst of a turbulent presidential primary season when Kennedy was challenging President Lyndon Johnson for the Democratic Party’s nomination. Lichtenstein’s Pop Art style and bright colors create a sense of energy as it captures Kennedy’s image in the midst of a campaign speech. Kennedy responded in a bemused telegram: “I thought your cover picture was really marvelous, but I don’t have red spots all over my face.”
On June 5, 1968, just a few weeks after publication of the issue, Kennedy was assassinated while campaigning in Los Angeles. Time commissioned another cover from Lichtenstein to highlight the issue of gun control. A gun pointed at the viewer, though drawn in the same cartoon-like style as the Kennedy portrait, seemed haunting.