James Rosenquist (November 29, 1933 – March 31, 2017) was an American artist and one of the proponents of the pop art movement.
James Rosenquist became known in the 1960s as a leading American Pop artist alongside Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg and others. While each developed a distinct style, there were commonalities in their approaches to image-making that helped define the Pop art movement: the use of commercial art techniques and the depiction of popular imagery and everyday objects. As with his contemporaries, Rosenquist's background in billboard painting deeply influenced his nascent fine-art career, expanding the boundaries of his medium in an era that redefined the field of painting. His works tested the possibilities of perception, of the image and of the painted medium itself, combining figuration, collage and found objects to convey the contradictions inherent to the American experience.
Born in Grand Forks, North Dakota in 1933, Rosenquist studied art at the University of Minnesota (1952-54) before enrolling at the Art Students League, New York, also frequenting the Cedar Tavern where he met painters Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline and Milton Resnick. Working as a painter of monumental advertising billboards and painting abstract canvases in his spare time, in 1960 he abandoned commercial painting and set up a studio in Coenties Slip, New York. By cropping, fragmenting and re-colouring images from magazines, combined with the skills and gestures of sign-painting, Rosenquist developed a new language that differentiated him from the second generation of Abstract Expressionists and set him apart from his peers. Utilising techniques borrowed from advertising, described by the late American curator Walter Hopps as 'visual poetry', his work has plumbed questions ranging from the economic, romantic, and ecological to the scientific, cosmic and existential.