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  • Provenance

    Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris
    Bernard Jacobson Gallery, London

  • Exhibited

    Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris, James Rosenquist: Target Practice, May 14 – June 15, 1996

  • Literature

    James Rosenquist: Target Practice, exh. cat., Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris, 1996, n.p.

  • Catalogue Essay

    “…Being able to point and describe and even draw something simple, like a map - or that ability to point, to shoot an arrow, to shoot a gun, to describe -- if someone has that, that's talent. And then the next thing is to have the spirit to do something else.”

    – James Rosenquist

    Although identified with Pop Artists of mid-century America, James Rosenquist is force far greater than the category. Schooled as a billboard painter, Rosenquist applied his method and distinct sensitivity to surreal, collocated, and immense canvases; arousing an almost widescreen cinematic parade of dynamic convolutions. The juxtapositions of these canvased images are not ones of limit, but ones of pure complexity; they crop, invert, reverse, and thrust their boldness into sight. "Art is the greatest risk of all, because when you're making something, you're constantly asking yourself what the hell you're doing... That's the part that excites you. The work part doesn't, the possibility of a new outcome does. It's scary putting a new vision together that can change your thinking or someone else's. I think it can be done. You can make something so beautiful, or so serious, or so ugly that it scrambles your mind and changes your attitude toward seeing things" (J. Rosenquist quoted in J. Goldman, James Rosenquist, The Denver Art Museum, 1985, p. 12).

    In Ce N'est Pas un Pistolet, 1996, the shooter and victim are anonymous. Two pistols, held by an anonymous culprit, carelessly dangle with no single target in sight. A pair of hands curls around the edges of the canvas, strangely twisted as they grip the jet black handles of each weapon. The pistols are rendered in varying shades of grey and black, gorgeously painted to capture the cold, hard surface; the light bouncing off the long barrel illuminates an impending danger that lurks behind the flick of single index finger. Here, James Rosenquist’s visual commentary on the culture of consumerism serves as a pictorial narrative of contemporary Americana and his narrative is rendered through striking hues, meticulous execution, and chilling props.

    The present lot, Ce N'est Pas un Pistolet, 1996, from the series Target Practice, is a stylized and sexualized portrait of American violence with a pop sensibility; culled from the legacy of the Wild West, these handguns are set against neon backdrops that highlight their association with the casual beauty of the entertainment industry. When the series was first exhibited at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris, in 1996, the works were displayed in the gallery so that they face the viewer from every direction, intimating the unfortunate identity of the victim, but leaving any delusions of crime-solving unsatisfied. "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).



Ceci N'est Pas un Pistolet

oil on canvas laid on board
48 x 48 in. (121.9 x 121.9 cm.)
Signed, titled and dated "James Rosenquist, 1996, "CE N'EST PAS UN PISTOLET'" along the overlap.

$500,000 - 700,000 

Sold for $605,000

Contact Specialist
Zach Miner
Head of Evening Sale
[email protected]
+1 212 940 1256

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York 11 November 2013 7PM