James Rosenquist - Contemporary Art Part I New York Wednesday, November 11, 2009 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Max Lang Gallery, New York

  • Exhibited

    Seattle, Winston Wachter Fine Art, Pop, February 21 - April 10, 1999

  • Literature

    R. Hackett, “Pop Goes Exhibit at Winston Wachter,” Seattle PI, March 5, 1999, p. 18

  • Catalogue Essay

    James Rosenquist’s visual commentary on the American culture of consumerism serves as a unique pictorial narrative of contemporary America. While his work consists of easily recognized images, we only have a vague sense of the meaning of the fragments, inviting contemplation and consideration. The uncertainty of the work slowly unfolds into the stark reality of the present state of America.
    The present lot, Wild West World, 1996, from the series Target Practice, is a direct reference to American violence and rampant gun crime that is the cultural legacy of the cowboys of the Wild West. When the series was first exhibited at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris, and Feigen, Inc., Chicago, the works were arranged so that they face the viewer from every direction. With the barrel of the gun directly confronting the viewer, one finds oneself looking straight into the present violent realities. With death controlled by a mysterious hand, one cannot help but be exhilarated by the vibrant and cautionary yellow. Finally the viewer realizes that he is pointing the gun at himself. Through the barrel of the pistol—a black hole— Rosenquist’s observations of modern life and his criticisms of the world are reflected. The viewer is absorbed in the visual experience of the iconic power before him. In this striking work, Rosenquist has united both his acclaimed techniques and his personal views to invite insight into the social concerns of the United States. From his billboard years in the late 50s and early 60s, this work is a prime example of his unique understanding of color and form as a means of creating a powerful and strong composition. Using a cautionary yellow as his background and placing it against the imagery of the foreboding gun, this work becomes a platform of authority upon which Rosenquist warns his viewers of a reality forever recorded onto the surface of the canvas. "I’ve been exhilarated by a numbness I get when I’m forced to see something close that I don’t want to see,"  (James Rosenquist in M. Tucker, James Rosenquist, New York, 1972, p. 12).


Wild West World


Oil on canvas laid on board.

48 x 48 in. (122 x 122 cm).

Signed, titled and dated “James Rosenquist ‘Wild West World’ 1996” on the overlap.

$200,000 - 300,000 

Sold for $242,500

Contemporary Art Part I

12 Nov 2009
New York