James Rosenquist Biography

James Rosenquist





James Rosenquist, painter and printmaker, was born in Grand Forks, North Dakota to Louis and Ruth Rosenquist on 29 November 1933. He was raised in both North Dakota and Minnesota, and at the age of fourteen years old, Rosenquist won a scholarship to attend Saturday classes at the Minneapolis School of Art (now the Minneapolis College of Art and Design). He then enrolled at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis from 1952 to 1954, studying with Cameron Booth. In 1955, he moved to New York after receiving a scholarship to the Art Students League, studying with Edwin Dickinson, Will Barnet, Morris Kantor, George Grosz, and Vaclav Vytacil.

Rosenquist supported himself in the commercial art field by painting advertising billboards while attending school. He left the Art Students League after one year and joined the union of sign painters. He worked for ArtKraft Strauss Company and painted large outdoor billboards around Manhattan. Being inherently an artist, thrifty, and seeing an opportunity, Rosenquist used the leftover paint to create small abstract expressionist paintings. About 1960, he began to paint canvases in the iconography of his billboards, left the commercial art field, and he soon became a seminal figure in the Pop art movement.

In 1962 he had his first solo exhibition at the Green Gallery in New York and in 1963 Rosenquist was included in the exhibition Six Painters and the Object at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. That same year he was selected by Art in America as the “Young Talent Painter” of the year. Rosenquist gained international acclaim in 1965 with his room-scale painting, F-111.

His work has been exhibited internationally and is represented in the collections of the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; the Tate Modern, London; the Metropolitan Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney American Art Museum, New York; le Musée Nationale d'Art Moderne, Paris; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the Saint Louis Art Museum, Missouri; the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; the National Gallery of Art, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.

A retrospective of Rosenquist's graphic work was held at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida in 1979. In 2003, James Rosenquist: A Retrospective opened at the Guggenheim Museum and traveled to the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston and the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.

James Rosenquist died in New York City on 31 March 2017.