James Rosenquist

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This article is about the American artist. For the Swedish gymnast, see Gustaf Rosenquist. For the American police radio dispatcher, see Jesse Rosenquist.
James Rosenquist
James rosenquist1.jpg
Photo of James Rosenquist in his Aripeka, Florida studio, 1988. Photo by Russ Blaise
Born (1933-11-29) November 29, 1933 (age 83)
Grand Forks, North Dakota
Nationality American
Education Minneapolis College of Art and Design, University of Minnesota, Art Students League of New York
Known for Painting, printmaking, drawing
Movement Pop-art

James Rosenquist (born November 29, 1933) is an American artist and one of the protagonists in the pop-art movement. Rosenquist was a 2001 inductee into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame.[1]

Background and education[edit]

He was born in Grand Forks, North Dakota, and grew up as an only child. His parents, Louis and Ruth Rosenquist, of Swedish descent, were amateur pilots and 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 interest. 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.[2]


Early years[edit]

To be creative is to be accepting, but it’s also to be harsh on one’s self. You just don’t paint colors for the silliness of it all. - James Rosenquist[3]

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 said 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."[4]

Rosenquist's paintings have been on display in the lobby of Key Tower in Cleveland, Ohio. His F-111 was displayed for many years.

Mature work[edit]

His specialty is taking fragmented, odd images and combining, overlapping, and putting them on canvases to create visual stories. This can leave some viewers breathless yet others confused, 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.[citation needed]


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.

In 1994, he created the print Discover Graphics in celebration of a Smithsonian educational program detailing the printmaking process. The print's proceeds supported the Smithsonian Associates' cultural and educational programs, and an original of the lithograph hangs in the Smithsonian Art Collectors Program's ongoing exhibition, Graphic Eloquence in the S. Dillon Ripley Center in the National Mall.


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 culture.

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. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum organized a full-career retrospective in 2003, which traveled internationally, and was organized by curators Walter Hopps and Sarah Bancroft.[5]

Rosenquist 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 continues 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.


On April 25, 2009, a fire swept through Hernando County, Florida, where Rosenquist has lived for 30 years, burning the artist's house, studios, and warehouse. All of his paintings stored on his property were destroyed, including art for an upcoming show.[6][7][8]


  1. ^ James Rosenquist Florida Artists Hall of Fame
  2. ^ Kastner, Jeffrey (November 22, 2007). "In the Studio: James Rosenquist". artinfo.com. Retrieved April 21, 2008. 
  3. ^ Staniszewski,Mary Anne. "James Rosenquist Interview" BOMB Magazine Fall, 1987. Retrieved May 17, 2013.
  4. ^ "Art Space Talk: James Rosenquist", Myartspace, April 4, 2008. Retrieved May 16, 2008.
  5. ^ Stevens, Mark, New York Magazine (October 20, 2003). King of Pop
  6. ^ Miamiherald.com
  7. ^ Itzkoff, Dave (April 28, 2009). "Pop Artist's Works Lost in Studio Fire". The New York Times. Retrieved October 15, 2010. 
  8. ^ Baynews9.com

External links[edit]