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James Rosenquist was born in 1933 in Grand Forks county North Dakota in a hospital that is now known as the Happy Dragon Chinese Restaurant His family moved from Grand Forks to Minneapolis in 1944 In 1948 he began his studies of art at the Minneapolis Art Institute and in 1953 he continued his studies of painting at the University of Minnesota In 1955 Rosenquist applied for and received a scholarship to the Art Students League in New York During this period he painted small format abstract paintings By 1957 Rosenquist was sharing an Amsterdam Avenue space with Alice Forman Jo Warner and Peggy Smith and had met Jasper Jones Elsworth Kelly Jack Youngerman Anges Martin Charles Hinman Robert Indiana and Robert Rauschenberg It was around this time that the Pop Art scene was beginning to jell In 1958 Rosenquist landed a job painting billboards above Times Square this would eventually influence his the giant size of his Pop Art experiments In addition to painting billboards for Artkraft Strauss Rosenquist along with Johns and Rauschenberg created windows for Bonwit Teller and Tiffany Co He also painted Plexiglas marquees for the Palace Theatre where he acquired techniques and attitudes he later adapted to printmaking James Rosenquists first solo show was in 1962 at Greene Gallery it was sold out In the following year he exhibited his work at the Galerie Ileana Sonnabend the Dwan Gallery Los Angeles and taught at Yale University The giant scale of his paintings made his work simply too big too ignore and people were enthralled by the powerful new diversity of his images In 1965 he made the legendary 26 metre-wide picture F-111 This particular piece contains images of an angel food cake tinned spaghetti the words US Air Force a nuclear explosion a firestone tire and others all splashed across the length of an F-111 fighter plane Often his images were inspired by advertising or other commercial
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