Rosenquist, James

Rosenquist, James, 1933–2017, American painter, b. Grand Forks, N.Dak., studied Univ. of Minnesota (1952–54), Art Students League, New York City (1955). An important figure in the pop art movement, Rosenquist incorporated disparate and fragmented images of everyday American life and commerce into his huge canvases. Although they are realistically painted, they can appear abstract because of their vast scale and color. Rosenquist borrowed from his earlier experience as a billboard painter in New York City for the style, technique, imagery, and aesthetic of these works. His best-known painting, the epic F-111 (1965, Museum of Modern Art, New York City), is a 51-panel work occupying the long walls (86 ft/26 m) of an entire room; it enigmatically juxtaposes such images as a sleek fighter bomber, a child under a hair dryer, an angel-food cake, a mushroom cloud and beach umbrella, light bulbs, a tire, and a mass of spaghetti, suggesting a connection between consumerist affluence and American militarism. Other familiar images in his composite paintings include cars, celebrities, many kinds of food products, and familiar appliances. Rosenquist, who sometimes worked in sculpture, mixed media, and collage, was also a prolific printmaker.

See C. W. Glenn, Time Dust: James Rosenquist Complete Graphics 1962–1992 (1993); catalogs by J. Goldman (1985), J. Hopps et al. (2003), and C. Ratcliff et al. (2009) and James Rosenquist: Four Decades: 1970–2010 (2017); his autobiography, Painting below Zero: Notes on a Life in Art (2009, with D. Dalton).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2023, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: American and Canadian Art: Biographies