James Rosenquist

James Rosenquist was born in Nort Dakota in 1933 as an only child of amateur pilots Ruth and Louis Rosenquist. His father had temporary jobs as planes repairman and therefore the moved frequently. During World War II he lived mainly with his grandfather on a farm. After the war the family settled in Minneapolis. James worked during summers and after school collecting newspapers, selling ice cream and making deliveries for a local drug store. His mother was also an amateur painter and took her son on visits to art schools en museums. Paper was hard to find but he used discarded wallpaper and sketched cars, airplanes, boats and large battle scenes. In eight grade his watercolor of a sunset won him a scholarship for four free classes at the Minneapolis School of Art. There he was exposed to artists who studied art in Paris after World War II.
World's Fair Mural (1964)
Rosenquist's real art training began in 1952 when he went to the University of Minnesota and studied under painter Cameron Booth who learned it in France by german painter Hans Hofmann.During his first summer at the university Rosenquist began working as a commercial sign painter in various places. Nowadays signs are printed but in those days they were painted. He was specialised on large-scale signs that could be seen from far away like a moving car.
President Elect (1961)
In 1955 suggested by Booth he moved to New York City to join the Art Students League. There Rosenquist studied with Will Barnet, Vaclav Vytlacil, and George Grosz. The artist also interacted with members of the Beat Generation literary scene such as Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. He also continued to paint signs.
Zone (1961)
After quitting his job in 1960 when a fellow sign painter fell to his death Rosenquist applied all he had learned to his canvas paintings. That same year everything changed. He married textile designer Mary Lou Adams, rented a small studio in lower Manhattan. His neighbors included Robert Indiana, Agnes Martin, and Ellsworth Kelly. He decided to stop doing abstract expressionism. The artist turned instead to a new realism and to the techniques that he had developed through billboard painting.
F-111 (1965)
Collectors and influential gallery owners like Richard Bellamy and Leo Castelli began to show interest in Rosenquist's new paintings. His work made him a pioneer of pop art in 1962 when his first solo exhibition at the Green Gallery in New York sold out at approximately the same time as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein did with shows. He met Andy Warhol in 1964 and also dined with Salvador Dalí and Jeff Koons. Dalí placed an asparagus from their meal on his head during the whole meal and it was very amusing. He was now one of them in the world of famous painters. In 1965 he made his most famous work ever F-111 which measures 10 feet (3,05 meters) high by 86 feet (26 meters) dived into 4 parts.
Marilyn Monroe I (1962)
In the 1970s the artist began work on two murals for the State of Florida. During this time Rosenquist also became politically involved. Lobbying the government in 1974 for better legislation to protect artists' rights and protesting the Vietnam War. Paintings created during this decade reflect his political concerns as well as his fascination with technology, modern innovations and their sometimes conflicting relationship with nature. By 1980 ecological issues had begun to concern Rosenquist as evidenced in his series of local tropical flora.
House of Fire (1961)
His fame continued to grow and in 1987 he was admitted to the American Academy and Institute of Art and Letters in New York.
Time Dust (1992)
In the 1990s his fascination with space and time had become a dominant theme. Echoing the fashion for science fiction in other areas of popular culture. In addition to painting Rosenquist also produced large-scale prints. His 1992 work Time Dust is thought to be the largest print ever made, measuring 86 x 420 inches. Fragmented images overlap, collide, and swirl across massive canvases that overwhelm the gallery space they occupy and the viewers who enter that space.
Ten Days (1973)
In 2009 a fire destroyed his home and studio in Aripeka, Florida. Many works have been destroyed including a massive work almost completed. James died in 2017 after a long illness at the age of 83.
Orange Field (1964)

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