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JAMES ROSENQUIST (1933-2017)

 
JAMES ROSENQUIST - Television or the Cat's Cradle Supports Electronic Picture - acrylic on canvas over panel - 66 x 240 in. JAMES ROSENQUIST - Television or the Cat's Cradle Supports Electronic Picture - acrylic on canvas over panel - 66 x 240 in. JAMES ROSENQUIST - Television or the Cat's Cradle Supports Electronic Picture - acrylic on canvas over panel - 66 x 240 in. JAMES ROSENQUIST - Television or the Cat's Cradle Supports Electronic Picture - acrylic on canvas over panel - 66 x 240 in. JAMES ROSENQUIST - Television or the Cat's Cradle Supports Electronic Picture - acrylic on canvas over panel - 66 x 240 in. JAMES ROSENQUIST - Television or the Cat's Cradle Supports Electronic Picture - acrylic on canvas over panel - 66 x 240 in. JAMES ROSENQUIST - Television or the Cat's Cradle Supports Electronic Picture - acrylic on canvas over panel - 66 x 240 in. JAMES ROSENQUIST - Television or the Cat's Cradle Supports Electronic Picture - acrylic on canvas over panel - 66 x 240 in. JAMES ROSENQUIST - Television or the Cat's Cradle Supports Electronic Picture - acrylic on canvas over panel - 66 x 240 in. JAMES ROSENQUIST - Television or the Cat's Cradle Supports Electronic Picture - acrylic on canvas over panel - 66 x 240 in.
Television or the Cat's Cradle Supports Electronic Picture1988-9966 x 240 in.(167.64 x 609.6 cm) acrylic on canvas over panel
Provenance
Bernard Jacobson Gallery, New York
Private Collection, Houston
Exhibition
1993 Williamson Gallery, Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, California
2013 Celestial, McClain Gallery, Houston, Texas
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“If you are close to it, a big painting is just a feeling around you, that’s all.” – James Rosenquist

History

The photograph of twenty-five-year-old James Rosenquist standing on a narrow catwalk painting a billboard high above Manhattan’s bustling 47th Ave. is a pean of appreciation for the earnest, hard-working men of that time. It was taken in 1958, and though it is not likely he imagined that this laborious and dangerous work would be perfect training for achieving the fame of the greatest Pop artists of his time — Warhol, Lichtenstein, Wesselmann, and Oldenburg — as he blended the flesh tones of an upper arm and added highlights for the muscle and bone structure, he was painting fragmentary portions of the greater picture and perfecting a canny ability to enlarge and resize imagery, working with abstraction on a scale and in a manner unmatched by any artist of his time.

When aligned with his characteristically crisp, bold, painterly handling, formal elements and imagery untethered to norms of context and relationship, the result can have a transformative effect. Television or the Cat’s Cradle Supports Electronic Picture is a powerful illustration of that mélange of abilities as well as an artist’s intentions to generate free associations of thought and contemplation. Here, Rosenquist invites us to explore our free-wheeling associations of three disparate elements set against a cosmic ether: tropical flora (passion flowers), a human presence deconstructed as sharded scissor-cut facial components, and between the two, a rectangular shaped diamond-meshed lattice. But there is also playful irony here. Given Rosenquist’s environmental concerns during the late 1980s and ‘90s, the thin, taut strands of a cat’s cradle suggest the folly of our egocentric bearing. Its points of contact suggest the fundamental connections between everything and serve to belie the notion that humankind has little or no deleterious effect on the world in which we live.

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    James Rosenquist, 1988 Photo by Russ Blaise
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    James Rosenquist painting a billboard on 47th Street and Broadway, New York City, 1958
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    The legends of Pop: Tom Wesselman , Roy Lichtenstein, James Rosenquist, Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg in Andy Warhol’s Loft, New York City, 1964, Photograph by Fred W. Mcdarrah
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    Rosenquist, kicking a heel in his Florida studio, circa 2000
“In many ways my paintings are about energy — both in how they are created and the image itself.” – James Rosenquist

MARKET INSIGHTS

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  • The graph by Art Market Research shows that in the last 20 years, Rosenquist paintings have increased at an 8.3% annual rate of return
  • Still, the Rosenquist market is relatively undervalued when compared to his Pop art contemporaries such as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein
  • Rosenquist paintings from the 1970s and ‘80s have room to reach full price realization. As collectors and museums continue to acquire pieces from the 1960s, works from the 1980s will likely increase in value.

 

 

 

Top Results at Auction

“Be Beautiful” (1964), oil on canvas, 54 x 84 1/8 inches. Sold at Sotheby’s New York: May 14, 2014, for $3,301,000 USD
“Be Beautiful” (1964), oil on canvas, 54 x 84 1/8 inches. Sold at Sotheby’s New York: May 14, 2014, for $3,301,000 USD
“Director” (1964), oil on canvas with painted folding chair frame, 62 x 52 inches. Sold at Christie’s New York: May 15, 2019, for $3,135,000 USD
“Director” (1964), oil on canvas with painted folding chair frame, 62 x 52 inches. Sold at Christie’s New York: May 15, 2019, for $3,135,000 USD
“Marilyn II” (1963), oil on canvas with balloons and string, 80 ½ x 58 ½ x 11 inches. Sold at Christie’s New York: May 15, 2019, for $2,655,000 USD
“Marilyn II” (1963), oil on canvas with balloons and string, 80 ½ x 58 ½ x 11 inches. Sold at Christie’s New York: May 15, 2019, for $2,655,000 USD
“Study for Marilyn” (1962), oil and painted wood on canvas, 38 1/8 x 36 ½ inches. Sold at Christie’s Paris: October 29, 2014, for $1,911,295 USD
“Study for Marilyn” (1962), oil and painted wood on canvas, 38 1/8 x 36 ½ inches. Sold at Christie’s Paris: October 29, 2014, for $1,911,295 USD

Paintings in Museum Collections

“F-111” (1964-65), oil on canvas, 10 x 86 feet, The Museum of Modern Art, New York
“F-111” (1964-65), oil on canvas, 10 x 86 feet, The Museum of Modern Art, New York
“The Swimmer in the Econo-mist (painting 1)” (1997-98), oil on canvas, 11 feet 6 3/4 inches x 90 feet 3 3/4 inches, The Guggenheim, New York
“The Swimmer in the Econo-mist (painting 1)” (1997-98), oil on canvas, 11 feet 6 3/4 inches x 90 feet 3 3/4 inches, The Guggenheim, New York
“House on Fire” (1981), oil on canvas, 78 x 198 inches, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
“House on Fire” (1981), oil on canvas, 78 x 198 inches, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
“Industrial Cottage” (1977), oil on canvas, 80 x 182 inches, The Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.
“Industrial Cottage” (1977), oil on canvas, 80 x 182 inches, The Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.
“Secret Incarnation” (1984), oil on canvas, 66 x 78 inches, The Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio
“Secret Incarnation” (1984), oil on canvas, 66 x 78 inches, The Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio
“Paper Clip” (1973), oil on canvas, 102 x 224 inches, The Dallas Museum of Art, Texas
“Paper Clip” (1973), oil on canvas, 102 x 224 inches, The Dallas Museum of Art, Texas
“Whenever I got a new studio I made the largest possible painting, and since the ceiling was low, the painting became horizontal. As I changed studios and got larger spaces, I made bigger paintings.” – James Rosenquist

Image Gallery

Additional Resources

Museum Ludwig presented the major exhibition James Rosenquist: Painting as Immersion in 2017-2018. That show included many large-scale works from this same period.
Learn more about the monumental Rosenquist painting in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, F-111 (1964-65)
Watch a short interview with James Rosenquist, discussing his time in school at the Art Students League of New York and his approach to art

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