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James Rosenquist: Pop Art, Politics, and…

James Rosenquist: Pop Art, Politics, and History in the 1960s

by Michael Lobel

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The Man in the Paper Suit

In this academic text, Michael Lobel analyzes the work of James Rosenquist, a pioneer in the Pop Art movement in the 1960s. Lesser known than Andy Warhol, Rosenquist was nevertheless one of Pop Art's most influential artists as Lobel aptly shows.

Lobel introduces Rosenquist by describing a bizarre scene in 1966, where Rosenquist staged a publicity stunt walking around NYC in a paper suit. It was Rosenquist's enigmatic way of addressing politics and history through the techniques and imagery of commercial culture. Like the paper suit, Rosenquist's work explored the interplay between novelty and obsolescence.

The early chapters of the book deal with Rosenquist's philosophical approach to art and his influences as a former billboard artist blending both commercial and aesthetic design. And yet, as the later chapters explore, Rosenquist was not only pushing the artistic boundaries of Pop Art but in an almost postmodern way was able to show resistance to mass culture which ironically was responsible for Pop Art's rising popularity. One the repetitive themes throughout much of Rosenquist's paintings is his satirizing of the notion of "planned obsolescence" -- the idea of newer, faster, better.

The latter chapters focus on two of Rosenquist's most famous works, President Elect and F-111. Lobel's choice to single these two out, allows for a very intricate and nuanced analysis of both the artist and the context surrounding their creation. As with most art criticism, Lobel's interpretations are just that, his own reading of the meanings and intentions. I left the book wanting to learn more about Pop Art which is I guess more than any author could want.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading all the philosophical, historical, and visual background of Rosenquist's work. I can find no fault with this book and definitely recommend it for anyone who wants to learn more about the Pop Art movement of the 1960s. ( )
  bruchu | Aug 17, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0520253035, Hardcover)

James Rosenquist's paintings, with their billboard-sized images of commercial subjects, are utterly emblematic of 1960s Pop Art. Their provocative imagery also touches on some of the major political and historical events of that turbulent decade--from the Kennedy assassination to the war in Vietnam. In the first full-length scholarly examination of Rosenquist's art from that period, Michael Lobel weaves together close visual analysis, a wealth of archival research, and a consideration of the social and historical contexts in which these paintings were produced to offer bold new readings of a body of work that helped redefine art in the 1960s. Bringing together a range of approaches, James Rosenquist provides a compelling perspective on the artist and on the burgeoning consumer culture of postwar America.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:05 -0400)

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