James Rosenquist - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale New York Wednesday, May 17, 2017 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Richard L. Feigen & Co., Chicago
    Private Collection, Chicago (acquired from the above)
    Private Collection, Miami (acquired from the above in 2008)

  • Literature

    Walter Hopps and Sarah Bancroft, James Rosenquist: A Retrospective, exh. cat., Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York, 2003, fig. 2, p. v (illustrated with the artist)

  • Catalogue Essay

    A few months after his celebrated, first exhibition at the Leo Castelli Gallery in 1965, which included his seminal mural F-111 (now in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art), the late James Rosenquist embarked upon a series of paintings inspired by the decimation of information by television in post-war America. At this time, the artist had only been in New York for ten years, having just recently secured his place in the circle of American Pop masters. In addition to the changing art world Rosenquist became a part of, the years of 1965 and 1966 also marked important changes in American politics and technological advancements, with both the height of the Cold War and the advent of space travel, events which were constantly documented in homes on the radio and on TV.

    In 1966, Rosenquist was particularly inspired by Project Gemini’s low Earth orbit missions, part of NASA’s large-scale objective to support the advancement of the Apollo mission. Each of these was heavily covered by news outlets around the country, and Paramus, one of Rosenquist’s 1966 masterworks, responds to such events. It depicts Gemini’s view of an astronaut’s New Jersey hometown, after which it is titled, painted in vibrantly saturated colors on a shaped canvas. The canvas’s rounded vertical edges recall that of a convex TV screen, thus meant to capture the picture precisely how it was illuminated in the homes of thousands of Americans as they followed these missions. As Rosenquist recalled of the 1966 television paintings, “I became interested in how the use of color in advertising and on TV affected the image you’re looking at…Reality is different on TV; the color on the screen is a metaphor for color in reality”. Indeed, the colors Rosenquist uses in Paramus are saturated to the point of invention, bleeding into one another in a sort of abstract color field. An ambiguous black form mirroring the rounded edge of the canvas imposes upon the composition from the left side, standing in stark contrast to the rich sea of sky blue, pastel green and hot pink. “I liked the idea of using these strange colors, the kind of blurry, garish colors you would see on old color TV sets” (James Rosenquist, Painting Below Zero, New York, 2009, pp. 175-176). The resulting work thus inconspicuously documents the sort of TV pictures exactly as they were projected onto 1960s screens. While aesthetically abstract, Paramus is in actuality a realistic depiction of its inspiration, consistent with the Pop billboard-style paintings found throughout the artist’s oeuvre.

    As Jerry Saltz so aptly espoused in an article celebrating the artist’s legacy last month, Rosenquist “extended art into the hyperspace of culture and brought more of the culture into art; he took the non sequiturs of everyday life and created what amounted to a buzzing optically alive American Cubism of changing perspectives, optical energy, and aesthetic audacity” (Jerry Saltz, “In Remembrance of James Rosenquist: 1933 – 2017”, Vulture, April 1, 2017, online). Indeed, with its contextual implications and aesthetic vibrancy, Paramus is a stellar example of the late artist’s importance in post-war American art and contemporary interpretations of the surrounding world.




signed, titled and dated ""PARAMUS" J. ROSENQUIST 1966" on the reverse
oil on shaped canvas
48 x 62 in. (121.9 x 157.5 cm.)
Painted in 1966, this work is documented in the artist’s archive under number 66.16.

$350,000 - 450,000 

Sold for $394,000

Contact Specialist
John McCord
Head of Day Sale
New York
+1 212 940 1261

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

New York Auction 17 May 2017