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James Rosenquist, Lanai, 1964

James Rosenquist, Lanai, 1964

Oil on canvas, 62 x 186 inches

Ryobi Foundation

© Estate of James Rosenquist / Licensed by VAGA at ARS, New York

With the New York art world gripped by Warholmania, what better time to compare and contrast? James Rosenquist: His American Life at Acquavella Galleries (until 7 December) offers a luscious portrait of a Pop artist and an intriguing counterpoint to the current Andy Warhol blockbuster at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Like Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and other Pop contemporaries, Rosenquist harnessed and subverted the imagery of mass media and popular culture, drenching the viewer in a brightly hued, lucid contemporary reality. But his aesthetic was fragmented: the giant shiny grille of a 1960s automobile might be juxtaposed with a wide-scale image of canned peaches or spaghetti or an expanse of shimmering pink fabric. Part of that vision was rooted in his background as a billboard artist in New York City: while working on a scaffold, Rosenquist could only see huge, virtually abstract details of the vast realistic image he was painting. Dating from the early 1960s through the early 1980s, each of the 17 paintings at Acquavella rewards looking: the effect is both discordant and entrancing, planting the viewer in a banal yet mysterious American landscape.