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James Rosenquist (born November 29, 1933) is an acclaimed
American artist and one of the protagonists in the pop-art
He was born in Grand Forks, North Dakota and grew up as an only
child. His parents moved from town to town to look for work,
finally settling in Minneapolis. His mother, who was also a
painter, encouraged her son to have an artistic interst. In
junior high school, Rosenquist won a short-term scholarship to
study at the Minneapolis School of Art and subsequently studied
painting at the University of Minnesota from 1952 to 1954. In
1955, at the age of 21, he moved to New York City on scholarship
to study at the Art Students League.
From 1957 to 1960, he earned his living as a billboard painter.
This was perfect training, as it turned out, for an artist about
to explode onto the pop art scene. Rosenquist deftly applied
sign-painting techniques to the large-scale paintings he began
creating in 1960. Like other pop artists, Rosenquist adapted the
visual language of advertising and pop culture (often funny,
vulgar, and outrageous) to the context of fine art. Rosenquist
achieved international acclaim in 1965 with the room-scale
painting F-111. Rosenquist has stated the following about his
involvement in the Pop Art movement: "They(art critics) called
me a Pop artist because I used recognizable imagery. The critics
like to group people together. I didn't meet Andy Warhol until
1964. I did not really know Andy or Roy Lichtenstein that well.
We all emerged separately."
His specialty is taking fragmented, oddly disproportionate
images and combining, overlapping, and putting them on canvases
to create stories you can see. This can leave viewers
breathless, making them consider even the most familiar objects
(a U-Haul trailer, or a box of Oxydol detergent, etc.) in more
abstract and provocative ways.
In addition to painting, he has produced a vast array of prints,
drawings and collages. One of his prints, Time Dust (1992), is
thought to be the largest print in the world, measuring
approximately 7 x 35 feet.
Rosenquist has 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, and receiving the Golden Plate Award from the American
Academy of Achievement in 1988. In 2002, the Fundación Cristóbal
Gabarrón conferred upon him its annual international award for
art, in recognition of his great contributions to universal
Since his first early
career retrospectives in 1972 organized by the Whitney Museum of
American Art, New York City, and the Wallraf-Richartz Museum,
Cologne, he has been the subject of several gallery and museum
exhibitions, both in the United States and abroad. He continues
to produce large-scale commissions, including the recent
three-painting suite The Swimmer in the Econo-mist (1997–1998)
for Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin, Germany, and a painting planned
for the ceiling of the Palais de Chaillot in Paris, France. His
work has continued to develop in exciting ways and is an ongoing
influence on younger generations of artists. A note of interest
would be that F-111 was mentioned in a chapter of Polaroids from
the Dead by Douglas Coupland.