James Rosenquist Visualising the Sixties
11 September – 22 November 2019
The first in-depth exhibition in the UK in over thirty years to focus on this pivotal decade in the career of James Rosenquist (1933–2017) within and beyond the realms of Pop art, James Rosenquist: Visualising the Sixties illuminated the artist's ground-breaking early years and the innovative and experimental techniques he employed, expanding the boundaries of his medium in an era that redefined the field of painting.
At the forefront of his time and the nascent Pop art movement, alongside contemporaries Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg and others, the 1960s saw Rosenquist develop a new visual language that would differentiate him from the second generation of Abstract Expressionists and set him apart from his peers. Utilising the visual language of advertising he radically experimented with his compositions, embracing vibrant colour palettes and the shaped canvas, combining figurative painting techniques, collage and the use of found objects to convey the contradictions inherent to the American experience – juxtaposing John F. Kennedy and the American Dream with images relating to the Vietnam War, mass consumerism, segregation and technological innovation.
The exhibition presented important paintings on both canvas and plastics, motorised paintings and shaped canvases, as well as an interactive hanging piece explicitly designed to be walked through by visitors – described by Rosenquist as ‘painting as immersion’ - and on display for the first time in the UK. Rarely seen collages and studies for some of Rosenquist's most iconic paintings also were featured, many of which the artist kept private for most of his career.