When the news of James Rosenquist passing away hit the media half a year ago, the art world mourned the loss of one of the last great Pop art masters. Known for his large-scale fragmented works that balance commercial painting with artistic qualities, he was one of the rare representatives of Pop art who can be spoken about in the same breath as the Warhols and Lichtensteins of the world.
In the upcoming exhibition called James Rosenquist: Painting as Immersion, the Museum Ludwig will for the first time present the works of this important representative of American Pop Art.
The show will focus on the cultural, social and political aspects of the works and it will, as the title suggests, deal with the concept of immersing in a painting - a phrase James Rosenquist himself loved to use in order to describe how he likes to define his creations.
It should be noted immediately that James Rosenquist himself authorized the concept and the selection of works for this exhibition, participating in its development from the very beginning. The fact that the late artist personally worked on this project, which will be the first major museum show as an homage to the painter, adds an even greater value to it.
James Rosenquist: Painting as Immersion will try to pull the audience into the pictures on display, hoping to involve them visually, physically, emotionally and intellectually.
Although the Museum Ludwig's collection is fairly rich with Pop Art pieces, the show's organizers decided to reinforce what they've got at their disposal, making sure that the works from such prestigious institutions as MoMA and the Guggenheim are also present.
Alongside various archive materials, some of which have not even been previously exhibited to the public, James Rosenquist: Painting as Immersion will present a wide variety of collages and advertisements the artist made during his illustrious career. One of the definite highlights will be the three-part, monumental ensemble entitled The Swimmer in the Econo-mist, a piece Rosenquist created by combining Pablo Picasso’s Guernica with other elements from the artist’s biography.
Some other pieces the viewers might be interested in are the impressive installation F-111, one of the true icons of the Pop movement, and the prestigious collection of all three installations that Rosenquist created for the legendary Castelli Gallery.
All of the compositions prepared for the show are the result of James Rosenquist's interest in the social and political events of his time, a feature that makes his art tremendously intriguing and even timeless.
From his collage-like paintings made in the 1960s, through the countless billboards he made during his long career, to biographically motivated paintings from the 1970s and all the way to the artist's interpretations of the cosmic phenomena in later large-scale paintings - the upcoming show will be a definite spectacle that will mark an end of an era, a chapter of art history that ended with the last heartbeats of the great James Rosenquist.
James Rosenquist: Painting as Immersion will be on display between the 18th of November 2017 and the 4th of March 2018 at Museum Ludwig in Cologne, Germany.
Featured images: Portrait of James Rosenquist in front of Star Thief, 1980; James Rosenquist - Collage for I Love You with My Ford, 1961, Magazine clipping and various materials; I Love You with My Ford, 1961, Oil on canvas, Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Untitled (Singapore), 1995, Oil on canvas; The Geometry of Fire, 2011, Oil on canvas; F-111 (detail), installation view at Leo Castelli Gallery (1965), 1964–65, Oil on canvas and aluminum, Museum of Modern Art, New York, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Alex L. Hillmann and Lillie P. Bliss Bequest, both by exchange, 1996; President Elect, 1960–61/1964, Oil on hardboard, Centre Georges Pompidou, Musée National d’Art Moderne/Centre de Création Industrielle, Paris. All images © Estate of James Rosenquist/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, 2017.
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