Remembering Pop Artist James Rosenquist

Installation view of James Rosenquist’s F-111, June 10-September 8, 1965. The Jewish Museum, NY. Photo by Ambur Hiken.

The Jewish Museum is saddened to hear of the passing of pioneering Pop artist James Rosenquist (1933–2017) who died on Friday, March 31 in New York City.

The original 1965 press release from James Rosenquist’s exhibition at the Jewish Museum

Rosenquist was known for his use of imagery from popular media and advertising to create billboard-sized paintings. In 1965, the Jewish Museum presented the artist’s 51 panel F-111, the largest Pop art painting in the world depicting the F-111B, the latest jet fighter-bomber of the time. The painting was previously shown at Leo Castelli Gallery, which represented most of the major Pop artists at the time, and then toured throughout Europe. The original 1965 press release for his exhibition at Jewish Museum reveals the significance of this large-scale painting in altering the artist’s own point of view:

Rosenquist started his career as a billboard painter, and he feels that this experience has altered his perception, causing him to see things on the larger-than-life scale which results in such “illustrations” of our culture as F-111.
James Rosenquist, The Flame Still Dances on Leo’s Book, 1977. Screenprint on paper. Gift of Jean-Christophe Castelli and tribute from the artist in honor of Leo Castelli. 1999–83.7

Part of the Jewish Museum collection, Rosenquist’s The Flame Still Dances on Leo’s Book is a 1977 screenprint depicting an anthropomorphic flame dancing on a Book of Life with Leo Castelli’s name on it, as if Rosenquist was conjuring a wish of longevity for the gallerist who had been an unerring supporter for the artist. The work was part of a portfolio honoring the 90th birthday of Leo Castelli, gifted to the Jewish Museum by Jean-Christophe Castelli, the gallerist’s son.

At the Jewish Museum, the flame, and our memories, still dance on for James Rosenquist.