Renowned for his billboard-size collage paintings combining images from advertising and consumer culture with vibrant colour and abstraction, James Rosenquist (1933-2017) was credited with creating a unique brand of conceptual realism. His early training as a billboard painter influenced the scale, content, and style of his works and he was considered one of the key figures in the Pop Art movement alongside Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. His complex discontinuous narratives juxtaposed fragmented images of consumer products, weaponry, and celebrities to reflect modern urban life. In the 1970s, his focus shifted from pure aesthetics to geo-political, existentialist, scientific and environmental themes. Throughout his career, Rosenquist worked in a range of diverse mediums, and produced a broad array of drawings and collages in addition to his painted works and prints.
Rosenquist was born in North Dakota and studied art at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the University of Minnesota, and the Art Student’s League in New York under George Grosz, among others. Rosenquist received numerous honours including the Art in American Young Talent Painter in 1963, a six-year appointment to the Board of the National Council on the Arts in 1978, and was nominated as a member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in 1987. His career retrospective in 1972 at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York marked the first of numerous solo gallery and museum exhibitions internationally, including an important retrospective at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2003), which travelled around the world, and a major show at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2012).