Rosenquist is an
acclaimed American artist and one of the protagonists in the
pop-art movement. He was born in Grand Forks, North Dakota
and grew up as an only child. His parents moved from town to
town to look for work, finally settling in Minneapolis. His
mother, who was also a painter, encouraged her son to have
an artistic interest. In junior high school, Rosenquist won
a short-term scholarship to study at the Minneapolis School
of Art and subsequently studied painting at the University
of Minnesota from 1952 to 1954. In 1955, at the age of 21,
he moved to New York City on scholarship to study at the Art
From 1957 to 1960, he earned his living as
a billboard painter. This was perfect training, as it turned
out, for an artist about to explode onto the pop art scene.
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. Rosenquist achieved
international acclaim in 1965 with the room-scale painting
F-111. Rosenquist has stated the following about his
involvement in the Pop Art movement: "They(art critics)
called me a Pop artist because I used recognizable imagery.
The critics like to group people together. I didn't meet
Andy Warhol until 1964. I did not really know Andy or Roy
Lichtenstein that well. We all emerged separately."
His specialty is taking fragmented, oddly
disproportionate images and combining, overlapping, and
putting them on canvases to create stories you can see. This
can leave viewers breathless, making them consider even the
most familiar objects (a U-Haul trailer, or a box of Oxydol
detergent, etc.) in more abstract and provocative ways.
In addition to painting, he
has produced a vast array of prints, drawings and collages.
One of his prints, Time Dust (1992), is thought to be the
largest print in the world, measuring approximately 7 x 35
feet. Rosenquist has received numerous honours, 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.