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Florida Artists: James Rosenquist
Brighter than the Sun 1961 painting by James RosenquistConsidered one of the preeminent artists of the Pop Art Movement, James Rosenquist redefined art during the second half of the twentieth century. He began his career as a commercial sign painter, painting large-scale billboards in the Mid-west and New York. Using his commercial billboard painting skills and taking imagery from popular culture, he then transformed the way painting was viewed. Rosenquist attended the renowned Art Students League and for over thirty years, has maintained a relationship with New York City's prestigious Leo Castelli Gallery, where his now famous wraparound painting, F-111 was first exhibited in 1965.

Currently residing in Aripeka, Rosenquist has been a Florida resident for over 25 years. His work has been featured in 17 solo exhibitions in major Florida museums and galleries. He was named a State of Florida Ambassador of the Arts and, in 1991, he received the Florida Prize, awarded by the New York Times Regional Newspapers. In 1978, he was commissioned by the Florida government to create large murals in the State Capitol Building.

James Rosenquist was born in Grand Forks, North Dakota and grew up as an only child. His parents, amateur pilots, moved from town to town to look for work, finally settling in Minneapolis. His mother, who was also a painter, encouraged her son to have an artistic interest. In junior high school, Rosenquist won a short-term scholarship to study at the Minneapolis School of Art and subsequently studied painting at the University of Minnesota from 1952 to 1954. In 1955, at the age of 21, he moved to New York City on scholarship to study at the Art Students League.

From 1957 to 1960, James Rosenquist earned his living as a billboard painter. This was perfect training, as it turned out, for an artist about to explode onto the pop art scene. Rosenquist deftly applied sign-painting techniques to the large-scale paintings he began creating in 1960. Like other pop artists, Rosenquist adapted the visual language of advertising and pop culture to the context of fine art.  His most famous painting, F-Ill, is eighty-six feet long and shares many of the characteristics of a billboard.


The Kabuki Blushes painting by James RosenquistAs Pop-Art boomed in the 1960s, James Rosenquist, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Tom Wesselmann were the main protagonists. James Rosenquist does not depict an ideal world in his pictures, but makes critical statements on current events. Rosenquist has stated the following about his involvement in the Pop Art movement: "They (art critics) called me a Pop artist because I used recognizable imagery. The critics like to group people together. I didn't meet Andy Warhol until 1964. I did not really know Andy or Roy Lichtenstein that well. We all emerged separately." James Rosenquist's specialty is taking fragmented, oddly disproportionate images and combining, overlapping, and putting them on canvases to create visual stories.

In addition to painting, James Rosenquist has produced a vast array of prints, drawings and collages. One of his prints, Time Dust (1992), is thought to be the largest print in the world, measuring approximately 7 x 35 feet. In 1994 he created the print Discover Graphics in celebration of a Smithsonian educational program detailing the printmaking process. The print's proceeds supported the Smithsonian Associates' cultural and educational programs.

James Rosenquist"s prints have frequently been exhibited in galleries and museums and at biennials internationally. They can be found in many permanent collections including those of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Musee d'Art Moderne, Paris, and the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto.

The west Florida home of  James Rosenquist was lost to a wild brush fire in April of 2009. The fire also claimed two of Rosenquist’s Florida studios, which contained recent artwork that was destined for an art show in New York City. Rosenquist, 75, has stated that he was “totally wiped out”. While he lost his home, he was more upset about his warehouse being destroyed. That's where he created most of his masterpieces. "What bothers me is that I lost about four million dollars worth of work in there," he said.  No one was injured in the blaze.

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Florida Artist
Florida Painter
Considered one of the preeminent artists of the Pop Art Movement, James Rosenquist redefined art during the second half of the twentieth century. As Pop-Art boomed in the 1960s, James Rosenquist, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Tom Wesselmann were the main protagonists. James Rosenquist does not depict an ideal world in his pictures, but makes critical statements on current events.
DOB: November 29, 1933 00:00:00.000