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American artist James Rosenquist died in New York on March 31 at age 83.
Rosenquist was a pioneer of the Pop Art movement. He worked as a commercial billboard painter before garnering success in the 1960s for his large-scale paintings that drew together an eclectic mix of imagery from mass media and advertising.
He distinguished his work from his contemporaries Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, stating, “I was never concerned with logos or brand names or movie stars… [or] ironic simulations of pop media; I wanted to make mysterious pictures.”
Rosenquist was interested in images “common enough to pass without notice.” He leaves behind a body of work that renders a “blue-collar view of American things without mockery… with a deadpan literalness and a directness that suggested innocence,” said art historian Judith Goldman.
Rosenquist’s best-known painting is the F-111. Completed in 1964, this was an 86-foot long piece protesting US militarism in relation to the Vietnam War. Of the F-111, Robert Hughes from Time magazine, wrote “[it] affected people in a way few works of political art had done since the murals of Diego Rivera in the 1930s.”