About The Artist
One of the most recognisable artists of the Pop art movement, James Rosenquist (b. 1933) is one of the leading American artists of the 20th century.
Born in North Dakota, Rosenquist’s parents were amateur pilots who travelled the country before basing themselves in Minneapolis. There Rosenquist was awarded a scholarship at the Minneapolis School of Art, going on to study painting at the University of Minnesota from 1952 – 1954. Rosenquist moved to New York City in 1955 to study at the Art Students League. There he established himself as an artist alongside contemporaries like Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg and Roy Lichtenstein.
Rosenquist worked as a commercial artist and sign-painter in the late 1950s and put this training to use in vast, billboard-style canvases which appropriated images from advertising. A graphic sensibility is evident in the work’s sharp lines, bright colors and juxtaposition of photo-realist fragments. In order to create these works, Rosenquist began making collages in the 1960s and creating two-dimensional paintings from these physical montages. The artist is known for the ambitious scale of his works and has executed numerous large paintings, including a mural at the New York World's Fair in 1964 as well as his most famous work, F-111 in 1965, which reaches over 26 metres long.
Influenced by popular culture and magazine design, this deadpan aesthetic is reminiscent of the work of Andy Warhol. Furthermore, Rosenquist’s choice of everyday subjects, from household products and movie star faces to fighter jets and fast cars, served as a critique of mass media. Rosenquist has described the development of his perspective on commodity culture in numerous interviews; having lived on the poverty line as a young artist in New York, he felt estranged from the capitalist system: “My values had changed… In a country where capitalists advertise in media—I lost track of all that. That put my mind in a whole different situation. I tried to develop some ground, some idea—where people could look at something, yet appreciate it for a different kind of value… I’ll use this with the same power that I had painted billboards—the same strength and intensity and exactness used for selling these products, but they won’t be made and they won’t be painted to be sold. We are numbed in this atmosphere as young children and young people. So l decided that I was going to work in this advertising media numbness.”
Rosenquist’s work features in several important major collections worldwide including Tate Modern, London; Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; Museum Ludwig, Cologne; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; MoMA, New York and Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.
Dickerman, L., “Interview with James Rosenquist”. The Museum of Modern Art Archives. April, 17, 2012. Web. October 10, 2016. Staniszewski, M.A., “James Rosenquist”. BOMB 21. Fall, 1987. Web. October 10, 2016.