James Rosenquist: A Retrospective in Houston
Beginning the middle of May, Houston will be standing under the sign of James
Rosenquist. Two renowned museums will together be showing the most
comprehensive retrospective of the artist's works to date. Both Deutsche
Bank and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation are taking part with
James Rosenquist, Mirage with Bedsheet Escape Ladder
Copyright VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, 2003
Deutsche Bank Collection
painters, and then there are American painters," the Times
wrote in the mid-eighties, clearly ascribing
James Rosenquist to the latter category. Internationally, the New
York-based artist is considered to be one of the most important proponents
of American Pop Art.
Rosenquist began his career as a sign painter. To this day, the mark
advertising left on his work remains clearly evident. Back in the early
sixties, he developed his own form of "New Realism" by dissecting motifs
borrowed from ads and posters, combining them in new ways, and
transferring them onto large-scale canvases. In his works, Rosenquist has
used a kind of artificial fog to dematerialize the upper and lower edges
of his pictorial spaces. In this vein, he's also employed hanging sheets
of painted plastic to carry his collage technique into the third
dimension. This technique has allowed him to create puzzling and visionary
compositions of images in which narrative and abstract structures overlap
and which often contain a critical political commentary. In Rosenquist's
paintings, the shiny chrome of machines and car parts appears again and
again, mirroring images from advertising and the mass media and distorting
them to create alien forms.
In a 1972 interview with artforum ,
Rosenquist recalled: "As for automobiles and car parts, I was brought up
with automobiles in the Midwest and I used to know the names of all of
them. I came here and spent some time in New York and I didn't know
anything that was stylish. I found myself standing on the corner, and
things going by, and I couldn't recognize anything and that wasn't only
automobiles. There were a lot of other things and I began to feel that
what was precious to my thing was what I could remember."
May 17 to August 17 2003, two museums in Houston will be presenting
James Rosenquist: A Retrospective as one of this spring's most
important art events. Together, the
Menil Collection and the
Museum of Fine Arts Houston (MFAH) will be showing 210 works dating from
1958 to the present. Even though Rosenquist's oeuvre has already been
documented in numerous large exhibitions, this is the first comprehensive
presentation since 1972 to take all of the techniques the artist has used
into consideration. While the Menil Collection will be introducing
Rosenquist's works from the fifties, among them the famous painting
F-111, the MFAH is concentrating on works made subsequent to 1970.
With important loans, Deutsche Bank and the Deutsche Guggenheim are taking
part, as well: thus, along with Mirage With Bedsheet Escape (1974)
from the collection of the Deutsche Bank, the monumental painting
Swimmer in the Econo-mist (1998) will also be on show in Houston,
which was Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin's first artist-commissioned work in
the exhibition program conceived by Deutsche Bank and the Solomon R.
Guggenheim Foundation. A series of Rosenquist's
drawings also on exhibit in Houston document the work's development. In
the tradition of his Environmental Paintings, the artist
transformed the walls of the 5,100 square foot-space into an all-around
painting. In recollection of Germany and Berlin, which Rosenquist visited
shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, a stirringly dynamic painting
of Germany arose. Comprised of three canvases and over 160 feet in length,
it is Rosenquist's largest painting to date.
its premiere in Houston, the exhibition will be shown at the Solomon R.
Guggenheim Museum in New York and finally at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.