A leading American Pop artist, James Rosenquist is best known for his large-scale collage paintings that juxtapose a range of fragmentary images sourced from advertising and mass media. In his bold and mysterious compositions, the artist expressed his social, political and cultural concerns.
Emerging in the 1960s, Rosenquist was among the first artists to address the seducing power of advertising through the application of the Surrealist practice of juxtaposing seemingly unrelated subjects into provocative pictorial combinations. A billboard painter-turned-artist, he used and recombined imagery from advertisements, photographs, and popular periodicals to tackle a range of subjects, from the economic, romantic, and ecological to the scientific, cosmic and existential.
He rose to prominence with a seminal 1965 work “F-111”, which combined the war imagery of mushrooms clouds and fighter planes and advertising and populist imagery to offer a profound visual critique of the Vietnam War. Over the course of his career, he created an exceptional and consistently intriguing body of work. In later years, Rosenquist moved beyond his early fascination with popular culture and mass media to explore the more abstract subject matter, continuing to influence younger generations of artists.
Rosenquist received numerous honors, including selection as “Art in America Young Talent USA” in 1963, appointment to a six-year term on the Board of the National Council of the Arts in 1978, after using his prominent artistic reputation to help lobby for federal protection of artists’ rights, and receiving the Golden Plate Award from the American Academy of Achievement in 1988. In 2002, he received Fundación Cristóbal Gabarrón’s annual international award for art, in recognition of his contributions to universal culture.
Working simultaneously in diverse media, Rosenquist was a successful draftsman, collagist and printmaker. Using personal and mysterious references, the reading of his work is unique for each viewer.
James Rosenquist was born in 1933 in Grand Forks, North Dakota and lived and worked between Aripeka, Florida and New York. He died in 2017 at the age of 83 at his home in New York City after a long illness.