James RosenquistBorn in North Dakota in 1933, James Rosenquist won a short-term scholarship to study at the Minneapolis School of Art in junior high school, and subsequently studied painting at the University of Minnesota from 1952 to 1954. In 1955 he moved to New York on scholarship to study at the Art Students League. From 1957 to 1960 he earned his living as a billboard painter—perfect training, as it turned out, for an artist about to explode onto the Pop art scene, and Rosenquist deftly applied sign-painting techniques to the large-scale paintings he began creating in 1960. Like other Pop artists, Rosenquist adapted the visual language of advertising and pop culture (often funny, vulgar, and outrageous) to the context of fine art. His specialty—taking fragmented, oddly disproportionate images and combining, overlapping, and juxtaposing them on canvases to create visual stories—can leave viewers breathless, making them consider even the most familiar objects (a U-Haul trailer, to cite one image, or a box of Oxydol detergent) in more abstract and provocative ways.
Rosenquist achieved international acclaim in 1965 with the room-scale painting F-111. In addition to painting, he has produced a vast array of prints, drawings and collages; his print Time Dust (1992) is thought to be the largest print in the world, measuring approximately 7 x 35 feet. Rosenquist has received numerous honors, including selection as Art In America Young Talent USA in 1963, appointment to a six-year term on the Board of the National Council of the Arts in 1978, and receiving the Golden Plate Award from the American Academy of Achievement in 1988. In 2002 the Fundación Cristóbal Gabarrón conferred upon him its annual international award for art, in recognition of his great contributions to universal culture. Since his first early career retrospectives in 1972 organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, and the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne, he has been the subject of several gallery and museum exhibitions, both in the U.S. and abroad. He continues to produce large-scale commissions, including the recent three-painting suite The Swimmer in the Econo-mist (1997–98) for Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin and a painting planned for the ceiling of the Palais de Chaillot in Paris. His work has continued to develop in exciting ways and is an ongoing influence on younger generations of artists.