In 1964, a World's Fair was held in New York. The architect, Philip
Johnson, designed the New York State exhibition building for the fair.
The building was shaped like a large circle and Johnson commissioned
works by 10 well-known young American artists to attach to it. James
Rosenquist was the youngest of the artists invited.
The 20-foot-square mural Rosenquist painted especially for this
building is like many of his paintings during this time. It resembles
a montage of billboard sections. Each individual
image has it own meaning or associations, but Rosenquist was more
interested in how they would work together to stimulate a response
from the viewer. He said, "I'm interested in contemporary vision--the
flick of chrome, reflections, rapid associations, quick flashes
of light. Bing-bang! Bing-bang! I don't do anecdotes;
I accumulate experiences."
This mural combines images that were seen frequently in 1964 advertisements
or the news. Included are images of the World's Fair (carnival peanuts
and soda pop), the space race, technology, and patriotism (Uncle
Sam's hat) in a sort of icon of American popular
culture. Rosenquist said, "I decided to make pictures of
fragments, images that would spill off the canvas instead of recede
into it.... I thought each fragment would be identified at a different
rate of speed and that I would paint them as realistically as possible.
Then I thought about the kind of imagery I'd use... I wanted to
find images that were in a 'nether-nether-land.' Things that were
a little out of style, but hadn't reached the state of nostalgia."
In the middle of these images you can see the words "Atwater,
MN" which is the name of the city where James Rosenquist lived
for a while when he was young. Rosenquist often includes words or
images that have to do with his own memories or events that happened
to him. His work is about his own identity and the identity of his
country and era. In fact, in 1969, this work was selected for the
cover of a French textbook on American civilization.
short story of some interesting or humorous incident.
image or representation of something that may be considered sacred
process of making one picture from many pictures or designs closely
arranged or overlapping each other.
opposite of high cultural art forms, such as the opera, historic
art, classical music, traditional theater or literature; popular
culture includes many forms of cultural communication including
newspapers, television, advertising, comics, pop music, radio, cheap
novels, movies, jazz, etc. In the beginning of the 20th century,
"high art" was the realm of the wealthy and educated classes while
popular culture or "low art" was considered commercial entertainment
for the lower classes. In the 1950s and 1960s the gulf between high
and low art closed with the rise of Pop Art.
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