They’re still getting James Rosenquist wrong, even the gallery that represents his latest show gets him wrong.
New York’s Acquavella Galleries, where Rosenquist’s new work of eleven paintings are on display, touts the artist as a “renowned Pop artist.” One wonders if this gallery ever talked to him about his work.
Clearly Hank Hine talked to him about it when directing Graphicstudio in Tampa, Florida, where Rosenquist did his printmaking. Hine told me that he even sees Rosenquist “in combat with Pop art.” Referring to the way Rosenquist turns ad art into a kind of lattice work through which other images peek, Hine said, “It’s as if Jimmy were not about to let advertising art overshadow art.”
I got a similar impression when I talked to Rosenquist about a show of his prints at Graphicstudio and he said that Pop art is not his main idea. What is? “It’s a matter of innovation – doing something different.” By way of explanation, he said if he paints a can of spaghetti and pea soup, the picture isn’t about those things, but rather about the colors red and green. It’s just a way of showing off the colors.
Of course, one may wonder what the difference is between a replica of soup cans by Pop king Andy Warhol and Rosenquist’s 30-foot-long replica of a used plastic bandage; complete with a paint splotch the color of dried blood, which hangs from the top of USF’s medical research building for children’s diseases. To Rosenquist’s credit, at least the Band-Aid has meaning.
Rather than ape the indifference of advertising the way Warhol did, Rosenquist new work seems downright personal. His studio in Arepeka, Florida was burned to the ground three years ago and the velocity and heedlessness if the blaze looks like it ended up in his new painting “The Geometry of Fire.” The flare of the fire flashing through a blackened sky strewn with shards of glass and melting metal tell the story.
But you know what? “Geometry of Fire” is so gorgeous composed and colored, it doesn’t convey devastation. In fact, the image looks less like a destructive fire and more like celebratory fireworks.
Rosenquist is right, though, to reject the Pop Art label. Whether about fire or fireworks, his new work makes tells you that. Besides, who would want to be tagged a Pop artist. http://quadrust.com/article/pop-art-before-it-popped The style made some sense in the ’60s, when it burst onto the art scene in rebellion against abstract expressionism’s messy inwardness. But it went too far and lasted too long, don’t you think?