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James Rosenquist

 (1933 - 2017)
James Rosenquist was active/lived in New York, Florida, North Dakota.  James Rosenquist is known for collage, modernist pop image painting, graphics.

James Rosenquist

    ROE-zen-kwist  speaker-click to hear pronunciation  click to hear

Biography from the Archives of askART

Biography photo for James Rosenquist
James Rosenquist was born in 1933 at Grand Forks, North Dakota.  His family moved to Minneapolis in 1944.  In 1948, he began his studies of art at the Minneapolis Art Institute.  In 1953, he continued his studies of painting at the University of Minnesota.

In 1955 he had a scholarship to go to the Art Students' League, New York, where he met Robert Indiana.  During this period, he painted small format abstract paintings and worked part-time as a driver.  In 1957 he met Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg. In 1959 he was at the same drawing class as Claes Oldenburg and was made "head painter" by the Artcraft Strauss Corporation.

He married the textile designer Mary Lou Adams.  During the election he produced the picture President Elect in which John F. Kennedy's face is combined in a kind of collage with sex and automobile imagery.  His first one-man exhibition in the Green Gallery, in 1962, was sold out.  In 1963 he worked on several sculptures, had a number of exhibitions at the Galerie Ileana Sonnabend, showed his work at the Dwan Gallery, Los Angeles, and taught at Yale University.  In 1965 he began to work with lithographs.

In the same year he made the 26 meter-wide picture F-111, which was shown at the Jewish Museum, New York, at Moderna Museet, Stockholm, and in other European cities.  It is one of his most important works.  The spatial organization of the composition into layers suggests the interrelationship of contemporary historical symbols and signs of affluence and military hardware, a vision of American culture expressing the proximity of euphoria and catastrophe.  In 1967 he moved to East Hampton.

In 1968 he was given his first retrospective by the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. In 1969 he turned his attention to experimenting with film techniques.  In 1970 he went to Cologne for the opening of his exhibition at the Galerie Rolf Ricke.  During the public protest against the Vietnam War he was briefly detained in Washington.  During the same year he had comprehensive retrospectives at the Wallraf-Richards Museum, Cologne, and the Whitney Museum, New York.

In 1974 and 1975, he lobbied the U.S. Senate on the legal rights of artists.  He became separated from his wife and designed his own house with an open-air studio at Indian Bay, Aripeka, Florida.  In 1978 F-111 was exhibited in the International Pavilion at the Venice Biennale.  In his work of the late seventies and eighties, e.g. 4 "New Clear Women," images of women are confronted with machine aesthetics, usually in large oblong compositions.  The themes of these dynamic compositions also include fire, progress and war machinery which he shows in rotating pictorial narratives.  Between 1985 and 1987 Rosenquist's entire development as an artist was shown in a comprehensive retrospective at six American museums.

Biography from the Archives of askART
Biography photo for James Rosenquist
James Rosenquist was born in the dust bowl that was Grand Forks, North Dakota on November 29, 1933.  He lived a nomadic childhood as his father moved throughout the northern midwest seeking work. Louis Rosenquist was an ex-pilot and imbued his son with a love of things mechanical.  In 1948 James won a scholarship to study at the Minneapolis School of Art; from 1952 to 1955 he studied painting at the University of Minnesota.  In 1955 he moved to New York City to study at the Art Students League because he had won a scholarship.  This traditional training was combined with an apprenticeship painting billboards in New York City.

In 1960 when he was twenty-seven he was ready to abandon billboards for serious art. As a young sign painter, Rosenquist was considered to be a "billboard Michelangelo." His debt to Surrealism in his reliance on seemingly irrational juxtapositions was evident in the majority of his paintings.  He was determined to find an alternative to the Abstract Expressionism that was so prevalent in New York City.  His references to mass-produced goods, and to magazines, films and other aspects of the mass media, together with his seemingly anonymous technique, caused him to be regarded as one of the key figures in the development of Pop art in the United States.

Rosenquist was married twice and had a daughter, Lily, with his second wife, Mimi Thompson.

Written and submitted by Jean Ershler Schatz, artist and researcher from Laguna Woods, California.

From the Internet,
ARTnews magazine, March 1986
ARTnews magazine, October 1991
Rosenquist Revisited by Eleanor Heartley in ARTnews magazine, Summer 1986

Biography from Auctionata, Inc.
James Rosenquist (American, b. 1933) Arguably the most openly political artist associated with the Pop Art movement, James Rosenquist studied at the University of Minnesota under Cameron Booth.

He painted his first billboard in 1954, and a year later was awarded a scholarship to attend the Art Students League in New York.

After completing his studies, he began a career as a commercial billboard painter, laying the foundations for his later large-scale compositions. His fragmented imagery drew from many commercial, social and political sources.

During the Vietnam War, Rosenquist became more openly critical of the military-industrial complex and American consumerism. In 2003, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum mounted a major retrospective of his works, which traveled to the Menil Collection, Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, and Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. Rosenquist lives and works in Aripeka, Florida.

Biography from
James Rosenquist was born in Grand Forks, North Dakota.  When he was a high school student, he won a scholarship to study at the Minneapolis School of Art.  He was further educated at the University of Minnesota and the Art Students League in New York.  He also attended drawing classes organized by Jack Youngerman and Robert Indiana; at the same time, he was designing store windows and painting billboards to earn a living.

This commercial experience led decisively to his particular pop style.  His most famous painting, F-Ill, is eighty-six feet long and shares many of the characteristics of a billboard.  The preference for anonymity in his subjects carried through to the print media. Rosenquist has made a number of screen prints and etchings, but most of his graphics are lithographs.

His prints have frequently been exhibited in galleries and museums and at biennials internationally.  They can be found in many permanent collections including those of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Musee d'Art Moderne, Paris, and the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto.


1933 Born November 29 in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Parents Louis and Ruth Rosenquist, of Swedish and Norwegian descent. Family settles in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1942.

1948 Wins junior high school scholarship to study art at the Minneapolis School of Art at the Minneapolis Art Institute.

1952-54 Attends the University of Minnesota, and studies with Cameron Booth. Visits the Art Institute of Chicago to study old master and 19th-century paintings. Paints storage bins, grain elevators, gasoline tanks, and signs during the summer. Works for General Outdoor Advertising, Minneapolis, and paints commercial billboards.

1955 Receives scholarship to the Art Students League, New York, and studies with Morris Kantor, George Grosz, and Edwin Dickinson.

1957-59 Becomes a member of the Sign, Pictorial and Display Union, Local 230. Employed by A.H. Villepigue, Inc., General Outdoor Advertising, Brooklyn, New York, and Artkraft Strauss Sign Corporation. Paints billboards in the Times Square area and other locations in New York.


1960 Quits working for Artkraft Strauss Sign Corporation. Rents a loft at 3-5 Coenties Slip; neighbors include the painters Jack Youngerman, Ellsworth Kelly, Agnes Martin, Robert Indiana, Lenore Tawney, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Barnett Newman, and the poet Oscar Williamson.

1961 Paints Zone (1960-61), his first studio painting to employ commercial painting techniques and fragmented advertising imagery.

1962 Has first solo exhibition at the Green Gallery, New York, which he joined in 1961. Early collectors include Robert C. Scull, Count Giuseppe Panza di Biumo, Richard Brown Baker, and Burton and Emily Tremaine.

1963 Paints mural commissioned by Philip Johnson for the 1964 New York World's Fair, New York State Pavilion. Exhibits in New York in Americans 1963 at the Museum of Modern Art and in Six Painters and the Object at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.

1964 Joins the Leo Castelli Gallery, New York. Exhibits with the Galerie Ileana Sonnabend, Paris, France, and the Galleria Gian Enzo Sperone, Turin, Italy. Begins working on lithographs at Universal Limited Art Editions, West Islip, Long Island.

1965 Exhibits F-111 (1964-65), a site-specific wrap-around painting, in his first solo show at the Leo Castelli Gallery, New York (April-May) and then at the Jewish Museum, New York (June-September). Robert C. Scull purchases F-111, and it tours eight major European museums through 1967.

1966 Begins a series of walk-through, ceiling-suspended paintings on clear polyester film (Mylar).

1967 Moves to Long Island, New York. Exhibits a room of polyester film paintings including Forest Ranger (1967) at the Palazzo Grassi, Venice, Italy. F-111 is exhibited at the 9th São Paulo Bienal, Brazil.

1968 Has first retrospective exhibition, at the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. F-111 is exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Forest Ranger group of paintings is exhibited at the Galerie Ileana Sonnabend, Paris.

1969 Exhibits his second site-specific wrap-around painting Horse Blinders (1968-69) at the Leo Castelli Gallery, New York. F-111 is exhibited at the Hayward Gallery, London, England.


1970 Exhibits an installation of painted and reflective panels with dry ice fog, Horizon Home Sweet Home (1970), and the paintings Area Code (1970) and Flamingo Capsule (1970) at the Leo Castelli Gallery.

1971 Works on the Cold Light Suite of prints at the University of South Florida's Graphicstudio in Tampa, Florida.

1972 Has retrospective exhibitions at the Wallraf-Richartz-Museums, Cologne, Germany; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Illinois.

1973 Rents studio in Ybor City, Florida.

1974 Lobbies in Washington, D. C., with Marion Javits and Robert Rauschenberg for legislation protecting artists' rights.

1976 Builds a house and studio with the architect Gilbert Flores in Aripeka, Florida.  Receives a commission from the State of Florida for two murals for the new state capitol building in Tallahassee.

1977 Purchases building on Chambers Street, New York. Paints a number of 15-foot works in Florida for exhibition at the Leo Castelli Gallery, 420 West Broadway, New York.

1978 Receives appointment to six-year term as member of the National Council on the Arts, Washington, D.C. F-111 is exhibited at the 38th Venice Biennale, Italy.


1980 Paints Star Thief (1980), the first of five 17' x 46' paintings.

1981 Exhibits Star Thief at the Leo Castelli Gallery, 142 Greene St., New York (January-February). Dade County Art in Public Places Committee selects Star Thief for a concourse at the Miami International Airport, Florida, but controversy with Eastern Airlines over the painting prevents its acquisition.

1982 Exhibits the painting Four New Clear Women (1982), 17' x 46', at the Leo Castelli Gallery, 142 Greene St., New York. Receives commission to paint a 7' x 24' mural, Flowers, Fish and Females for the Four Seasons (1984), for the Four Seasons Restaurant, New York.

1983 Completes a new studio in Aripeka, Florida. Exhibits Star Thief at the Center for the Fine Arts, Miami, Florida.

1985 Retrospective exhibition, organized by and originating at the Denver Art Museum, Colorado, travels until 1987 to the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, Texas; Des Moines Art Center, Iowa; The Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. Exhibits the 17' x 46' painting The Persistence of Electrical Nymphs in Space (1985) at the Leo Castelli Gallery, 142 Greene St., New York.

1986 F-111, the largest artwork auctioned to date, is sold at Sotheby's from the estate of Robert C. Scull for $2.09 million.

1987 Is nominated and inducted into the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, New York.

1988 Receives the Golden Plate Award from the American Academy of Achievement, Nashville, Tennessee.  Exhibits the painting Through the Eye of the Needle to the Anvil (1988), 17' x 46', at the Leo Castelli Gallery, 142 Greene St., New York.


1991 Has retrospective exhibitions at the Central Hall of Artists, Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, U.S.S.R. and at the IVAM Centre Julio Gonzalez, Valencia, Spain.

1992 Exhibits a selection of paintings executed in the early 1960s in The Early Pictures 1961-1964 at the Gagosian Gallery, New York.  Has solo exhibitions at the Galeria Weber, Alexander y Cobo, Madrid, Spain and the Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris, France.

1993 A retrospective of graphics, Time Dust, Complete Graphics: 1962-1992, travels to twelve venues in the United States. Has exhibitions of recent paintings at the Leo Castelli Gallery, New York, and the Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Salzburg, Austria. Exhibits a selection of the Gift Wrapped Doll series of paintings at Feigen Incorporated, Chicago, Illinois.

1994 An exhibition commemorating his 30-year association with the art dealer Leo Castelli is held at the Leo Castelli Gallery, New York, accompanied by the publication of the book The Big Paintings, Thirty Years.  Has a solo exhibition at Wetterling Teo Gallery, Singapore.

1995 Has solo exhibitions at the PYO Gallery, Seoul, South Korea and the Civico Museo Revoltella, Trieste, Italy. Star Thief is acquired by the Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany. Flowers, Fish and Females for the Four Seasons is acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.  Begins a series of hand-colored paper constructions.

1996 Exhibits new gun paintings in solo exhibitions at the Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris, and Salzburg, Austria, and at Feigen Incorporated, Chicago.  New Paper Constructions is shown at Gemini G.E.L., Los Angeles, California. F-111 is acquired by the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

1997 Singapore series of three large paintings is shown at the Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris, and new works are exhibited at the Wetterling Teo Gallery, Singapore.

1998 The Swimmer in the Econo-mist paintings are exhibited at the Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin, Germany. After Berlin: New Paintings exhibition is held at Feigen Contemporary, New York.  Begins the Speed of Light series of paintings.

1999 Has solo exhibition entitled Meteors: New Paintings at the Baldwin Gallery, Aspen, Colorado.  The Swimmer in the Econo-mist is shown at the June inaugural exhibition of the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams, Massachusetts.


2000 Has an exhibition at the Salvador Dalí Museum, St. Petersburg, Florida, entitled James Rosenquist: Paintings/James Rosenquist: Selects Dalí.

2001 Has solo exhibition including the 17' x 46' painting The Stowaway Peers Out at the Speed of Light (2000) and other Speed of Light paintings at the Gagosian Gallery, New York.  Included in Les Années Pop: 1956-1968 at the Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.

2002 Designs and donates a large, wall-mounted sculpture to All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida.  Receives an award from the Fundacion Cristóbal Gabarrón in Valladolid, Spain in recognition of his contributions to universal culture.

2003 Exhibits James Rosenquist: Recent Paintings at McClain Gallery, Houston, James Rosenquist: Selected Work on Paper at Leo Castelli, New York, James Rosenquist: Collages at Jacobson Howard Gallery, New York, James Rosenquist Prints: A Mini-Retrospective at Jim Kempner Fine Art, New York, and Rosenquist in Florida: Major Prints at Barbara Gillman Gallery, Miami. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum organizes a major respective of paintings, drawings, graphics, and collages, that travels to The Menil Collection and Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.

2004 James Rosenquist: A Retrospective travels to the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Spain.  Exhibits James Rosenquist: Prints from the '80s and '90s at Godt-Cleary Projects, Las Vegas, and James Rosenquist: Welcome to the Water Planet at Galerie ArtPoint der Ferratec AG, Rudolfstetten, Switzerland.

2005 Has a lone exhibition at Acquavella Galleries surveying his monochrome and grisaille work throughout his career.  Exhibits James Rosenquist: Ten Paintings, 1965-2004; Collage, 1987 at Givon Art Gallery, Tel Aviv. James Rosenquist: A Retrospective travels to the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg in Wolfsburg, Germany.

2006 Exhibits Celebrating the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by Eleanor Roosevelt at Art Unlimited/Art Basel in Basel Switzerland. Also exhibits at the Miami Art Museum, Miami.

2006-7 Has a major survey exhibition, James Rosenquist at the Haunch of Venison gallery in London.

2007 Exhibits James Rosenquist: The Speed of Light and Beyond at the Silvermine Guild Arts Center in New Canaan, Connecticut. Has a show of new work at Acquavella Galleries in the fall.

2007 Exhibits new work at Acquavella Galleries, James Rosenquist: Time Blades. Also shows James Rosenquist: The Speed of Light and Beyond at the Silvermine Guild Arts Center in New Canaan, Connecticut. Joins the board of The American Friends of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.

Biography from Art Cellar Exchange

James Rosenquist was destined for artist greatness at an early age.  As a junior high student, Rosenquist was awarded a short-term scholarship to the Minneapolis School of Art.  Later, after continuing his studies at the University of Minnesota as an undergrad, the artist joined the Art Students' League.  It was here in New York City that Rosenquist became aquatinted with and influenced by artists such as Robert Indiana, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg and Claes Oldenburg.

In the 1960s Rosenquist began to work in the collage style for which he became famous.  During this period in his life, Rosenquist was making a living as a billboard painter.  This experience seems to have have had a great influence on both the scale and subject matter of Rosenquist's subsequent work.  Works from this period juxtaposed seeming unrelated images in order to make poignant statements.  Building upon the work done by the pioneers of Pop Art, Rosenquist borrowed images from advertising to depict facets of popular culture and draw unexpected conclusions.

In 1962, he painted his most famous work "F-111."  At 26 meters wide, the painting is as ambitious in size as it is in message.  With bold colors and graphic imagery this canvas examines the often-absurd nature of American life.  It possesses ominous depictions of jet fighters (referenced in the title, fire and mushroom clouds intermixed with innocuous images such as a young girl under a hair dryer, a plate of spaghetti and a brightly colored umbrella.  As a whole, it exists as a vision of American culture, expressing the bizarre proximity of both euphoria and catastrophe that can be present in a modern culture.  The spatial organization of these diametrically opposed objects also alludes to the interrelationship of affluence and aggression.

Rosenquist's subsequent work continues to focus on themes of importance in the American life such as science, technology and the AIDS epidemic.  His artwork has been exhibited at many major galleries and museums throughout the world.  Despite the artist's relative young age, his career has been honored with retrospectives at both the Whitney and Guggenheim Museums.  In 1986, the "F-111" canvas sold at Sotheby's for $2.09 million and is currently valued at a price at least twice that amount.  Limited edition printed versions of this piece have recently sold for as much as $72,000 at auction.

Biography from Acquisitions of Fine Art
Born in 1933 in Grand Forks, North Dakota, James Rosenquist studied art at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts as a teenager and at the University of Minnesota between 1952 and 1954, painting billboards during the summers. In 1955 he moved to New York to study at the Art Students League. He left the school after one year, and in 1957 returned to life as a commercial artist, painting billboards in Times Square and across the city.

By 1960, Rosenquist had quit painting billboards and rented a small studio space in Manhattan where his neighbors included artists Robert Indiana, Ellsworth Kelly, and Jack Youngerman.

In 1962, James Rosenquist had his first solo exhibition, which was at the Green Gallery in New York, and afterward he was included in a number of groundbreaking group exhibitions that established Pop art as a movement.

James Rosenquist achieved international acclaim with his room-scale painting, F-111 (1965). In addition to painting, Rosenquist has produced a vast array of prints, drawings and collages; his print Time Dust (1992) is thought to be the largest print in the world, measuring seven by 35 feet.

The artist has received numerous honors; he was selected as the Art in America Young Talent Painter in 1963, appointed to a six-year term on the Board of the National Council on the Arts in 1978, and nominated as a member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in 1987.

Since his first early career retrospectives in 1972 organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne, he has been the subject of gallery and museum exhibitions in the U.S. and internationally. Rosenquist continues to produce large-scale commissions, including the recent three-painting suite The Swimmer in the Econo-mist (1997â€"98) for Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin, and has a painting planned for the ceiling of the Palais de Chaillot in Paris.

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About  James Rosenquist

Born:  1933 - Grand Forks, North Dakota
Died:   2017 - New York City
Known for:  collage, modernist pop image painting, graphics

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James Rosenquist