James Rosenquist, Swimmer In The Economist (painting 3). Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (c ) Estate Of James Rosenquist , VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, Visda, 2017
James Rosenquist: Painting as Immersion
April 14 – August 19
The last great American pop artist James Rosenquist, who died last year, is remembered as one of the most influential artists in pop art. Since the 1950s, he, along with Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, innovated the art scene to be about much more than paintings in golden frames. His paintings went beyond any known conventions – quite literally. In the 1960s, he started working with enormous sized art pieces, a task he was familiar with through his work as a billboard painter. Walking through the exhibition, one will find that many of Rosenquist's large-scale pieces stretch beyond one's field of view.
The exhibition is structured around three central and monumental artworks. These three giant multi-panel paintings each make out a room: from the iconic pop art piece Horse Blinders (1968) to Horizon Home Sweet Home (1970), which bolsters the idea of the painting as an illusion with its mirror-panels and dramatic dry ice fog, and finally the overwhelming three-painting suite The Swimmer in the Econo-mist (1997-98), owned by the Guggenheim, New York, which stretches over an impressive 27 meters. These three independent installations are complemented with several more essential pieces of art, which stretches from the artist's premier work in the early 1960s on to 2011.
A key aspect of the exhibition is furthermore the introduction to the process of the artist; his initial work with transforming popular culture images, ads, and magazines into collages, which later would inspire his gigantic paintings. ARoS showcases a total of 52 artworks, along with relevant archival material. The museum's close cooperation with Rosenquist Studio has allowed us to include these collages and early work, which have never been exhibited before.
James Rosenquist was born in North Dakota in 1933 and studied at the Minneapolis School of Art. He worked as an industrial worker and in the advertising industry before he moved to New York in the 1950s, where he soon became acquainted with artists from the generation preceding pop art—known as the abstract expressionists. He shared a studio with another group of famous American artists, including Ellsworth Kelly and Agnes Martin, through whom he got to know Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns.
He worked as a billboard painter in Brooklyn and Manhattan and painted the same motifs over and over. As he said: “I painted billboards above every candy store in Brooklyn. I got so I could paint a Schenley whiskey bottle in my sleep.”
A catalogue will be published for the exhibition in Danish, English, and German. It will be a comprehensive production, including the newest research on the field. Contributors include the two directors, Yilmaz Dziewior and Erlend G. Høyersten, as well as the renowned German art historian Tom Holert, who writes about Rosenquist's unique spatial features. Also contributing is the young German art historian Tino Grass from the Museum Ludwig Stephan Diederich, who takes the reader through the themes of the exhibition and discovers new ways of viewing the work of Rosenquist. Art conservator Isabel Gebhardt shares her experience with the substantial conservation process of the artwork Horse Blinders, and Tim Griffin, the former Editor in Chief at the acclaimed art magazine Artforum, tells about the political potential of pop art, starting with the work of James Rosenquist. Finally, studio manager with Rosenquist Studio, Sarah Bancroft, has contributed with a generous article and biography, supplemented with personal archival photos.
The exhibition is the largest presentation of James Rosenquist's work in Europe.
The exhibition is organized by senior curator at ARoS, Lise Pennington.