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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.

  • James Rosenquist, 1988 Photo by Russ Blaise

    James Rosenquist, 1988 Photo by Russ Blaise

  • James Rosenquist painting a billboard on 47th Street and Broadway, New York City, 1958

    James Rosenquist painting a billboard on 47th Street and Broadway, New York City, 1958

  • Tom Wesselman , Roy Lichtenstein, James Rosenquist, Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg in Andy Warhol’s Loft, New York City, 1964

    Tom Wesselman , Roy Lichtenstein, James Rosenquist, Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg in Andy Warhol’s Loft, New York City, 1964

    Photograph by Fred W. Mcdarrah
  • Rosenquist, kicking a heel in his Florida studio, circa 2000

    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

  • RosenquistAMR
  • The graph by Art Market Research shows that in the last 20 years, Rosenquist paintings have increased at an 7.4% 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

Oil on canvas, 54 x 84 1/4 in. Sold at Sotheby’s New York: 14 May 2014.

“Be Beautiful” (1964) sold for $3,301,000.

Oil on canvas, 54 x 84 1/4 in. Sold at Sotheby’s New York: 14 May 2014.
Oil on canvas with painted folding chair frame, 98 x 62 x 62 in. Sold at Christie’s New York: 15 May 2019.

“Director” (1964) sold for $3,135,000.

Oil on canvas with painted folding chair frame, 98 x 62 x 62 in. Sold at Christie’s New York: 15 May 2019.
Oil on canvas with balloons and string, 80 ½ x 58 ½ x 11 in. Sold at Christie’s New York: 15 May 2019.

“Marilyn II” (1963) sold for $2,655,000.

Oil on canvas with balloons and string, 80 ½ x 58 ½ x 11 in. Sold at Christie’s New York: 15 May 2019.
Oil and painted wood on canvas, 38 x 36 ½ in. Sold at Christie’s Paris: 29 October 2014.

“Study for Marilyn” (1962) sold for $1,911,295.

Oil and painted wood on canvas, 38 x 36 ½ in. Sold at Christie’s Paris: 29 October 2014.

Paintings in Museum Collections

The Museum of Modern Art, New York

“F-111” (1964-65), oil on canvas, 10 x 86 in.

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 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 in.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

“House on Fire” (1981), oil on canvas, 78 in. × 16 ft. 6 in.

Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.

“Industrial Cottage” (1977), oil on canvas, 80 in. × 182 in.

The Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio

“Secret Incarnation” (1984), oil on canvas, 66 in. x 78 in.

The Dallas Museum of Art, Texas

“Paper Clip” (1973), oil on canvas, 102 in.× 224 in.
“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

Painting as Immersion

many large-scale works from this same period were included in Museum’s major 2017-2018 exhibition James Rosenquist: Painting as Immersion.

Artist Talk

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

The Story Behind "F-111" (1964-65)

Learn more about the monumental Rosenquist painting in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, “F-111” (1964-65).

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