James Rosenquist, 1933-2017
April 2, 2017 10:56 AM   Subscribe

Pop Artist James Rosenquist has died. Rosenquist became well known in the 1960s as a leading American Pop artist alongside contemporaries Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg, and other figurative artists. As with his contemporaries, Rosenquist’s background in commercial art deeply influenced his nascent fine-art career and radically changed the face of the art world and the annals of art history. Jerry Saltz eulogizes. [Previously]
posted by Capt. Renault (18 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
posted by Thorzdad at 11:10 AM on April 2, 2017

posted by Fizz at 11:23 AM on April 2, 2017

posted by the return of the thin white sock at 11:50 AM on April 2, 2017

Thing I always wondered about with Rosenquist was did his day job as a sign painter inform the size and vernacular of his work, or was it his artist job that was being used by his commercial work to express itself creatively to a more dismissive audience?
posted by Stanczyk at 12:25 PM on April 2, 2017

Say what you will about his work, but 'F-111' is a hell of a painting.

posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 12:48 PM on April 2, 2017

posted by tychotesla at 1:02 PM on April 2, 2017

Oh damn. Goodbye friend and neighbor.

Just five minutes before seeing this I posted a comment somewhere else:

James Rosenquist, you've seen his F111 in your modern art history books. He also did the Illy logo.
I asked him, what did they pay you for that? "$200,000"

How long did it take? "Well I dipped the brush once, did an 'Ill..' didn't like it, dipped the brush and started again.That was the final."

So, how long then, 5 minutes? "No. 50 years. That's how long it took me to paint that. I needed the entire 50 years of painting almost every day to do that."
posted by StickyCarpet at 1:10 PM on April 2, 2017 [10 favorites]

(MF crashed out during that last comment... to continue...)

Until recently Jim (his name in all but professional contexts) was amazingly vital for his age, or any age. Witty, entertaining, hospitable, charming, and flirtatious ... his eyes were beautiful twinkling blue. He enjoyed projecting a "bad-boy" and prankster persona. About four years ago he contracted Rocky Mountain spotted fever from an insect bite, and declined steadily from there.

He thought that an artist should be considered a tradesman, distinguished only by the quality of his work ethic. Get up in the morning, put on your overalls, and go to work. He scoffed at high-minded conceptualizing and any attempts to cater to what he called, "the high muckety-mucks." His advice on how to become a painter: "Lock yourself in a room and don't come out until you have ten good paintings. Big ones."
posted by StickyCarpet at 1:42 PM on April 2, 2017 [11 favorites]

He also did the Illy logo.

What? I never knew that. I love that logo.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:45 PM on April 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

Thorzdad, some of the flagship Illy Cafes feature Rosenquist originals, with a coffee theme.
posted by StickyCarpet at 1:49 PM on April 2, 2017

posted by jim in austin at 1:50 PM on April 2, 2017

posted by From Bklyn at 2:12 PM on April 2, 2017

posted by Slithy_Tove at 2:42 PM on April 2, 2017

He's an artist I wish I knew better. My museum doesn't have any of hispaintings, so for a long time I only really knew him through a large but not really particularly exciting lithograph. Finally I started bumping into more of his work and it was so interesting in person.

posted by PussKillian at 3:12 PM on April 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

posted by Mister Bijou at 1:31 AM on April 3, 2017

posted by quazichimp at 2:58 AM on April 3, 2017

I spent a lot of time one year with a small collection of his paintings. The way I'd introduce them to students was to tell them to pick a paint stroke and follow it with your eyes and that was what separated art from artisan. I leave it as an exercise for the reader to determine which camp Rosenquist was in.

Last year at SGC in Portland there was a great exhibition of his work, in what were very small, claustrophobic galleries where you were practically shoved up next to those enormous paintings. It was like taking a heroic dose of mushrooms washed down with a bucket of absinthe. So reality bending. Such vision.

I'm only sorry not to know him better, what I've heard and read suggests that he was a great talent and one whose philosophy and outlook would have meshed well with my own.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 7:39 AM on April 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

I think Saltz is wrong about the work being less disturbing or less interesting as he grew older, esp. the gift wrapped doll series:

they are 5 feet square
posted by PinkMoose at 3:38 PM on April 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

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