April 1, 2017

"Pop Art. I’ve never cared for the term, but after half a century of being described as a Pop artist I’m resigned to it. Still, I don’t know what Pop Art means, to tell you the truth."

Said James Rosenquist, quoted in his NYT obituary. He was 83.
It was while working in New York as a sign painter by day and an abstract painter by night that he had the idea to import the giant-scale, broadly painted representational pictures from outdoor advertising into the realm of fine art.

“Was importing the method into art a bit of a cheap trick?” the critic Peter Schjeldahl wrote in The New Yorker in 2003 on the occasion of a ballyhooed retrospective of Mr. Rosenquist’s work at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. “So were Warhol’s photo silk-screening and Lichtenstein’s limning of panels from comic strips.

“The goal in all cases,” Mr. Schjeldahl added, “was to fuse painting aesthetics with the semiotics of media-drenched contemporary reality. The naked efficiency of anti-personal artmaking defines classic Pop. It’s as if someone were inviting you to inspect the fist with which he simultaneously punches you.”

20 comments:

buwaya puti said...

"The painted word", in a few words.
The critics words anyway.

Scott said...

"Art is anything you can get away with." --McLuhan

Jack Wayne said...

The artist sounds like a normal guy. The critic sounds like a pretentious, insufferable ass.

Guildofcannonballs said...

I can't explain it, but the use of contemporary seems wrong to me here. This guy has fabulous credentials so it must be my deficient reasoning causing pause.

No OED for me, but OD RockBrew (as in opening day) is approaching, time shall soon be scant, and I mean dictionary scant, not a neologism of dirty words for union-busting line-crossers and the most nasty of words, the c.

What is my contemporary spirit of this age, or to whom am I contemporary?

If a new, or the next I should say, Bobby Dylan comes along tomorrow, has the interloper defined this age as of today, never having been heard on a mass scale?

My apologies, but I can't get damn Campbell's Soup cans, old school red/white with yellow accents, out of my mind's forefront. And four, that's all it took, shades of Marilyn.

Sebastian said...

"Was importing the method into art a bit of a cheap trick?" As opposed to the rest of modern art?

sodal ye said...


The critic sounds like a pretentious, insufferable ass.

4/1/17, 4:00 PM

And if homosexual, was a Soviet spy

Guildofcannonballs said...

The goals were more to change the contemporary reality, micro via wealth from patrons and macro through wealth from corporations and much serendipity assumed, through a fusion of references to it, not it eo ipso, with painting aesthetics.

Media-drenchedness aside or foremost or in the middle my point stands, faulty perhaps but not in regards to who defines contemporary to whom and why and how and using what means.

Guildofcannonballs said...

I would have approved of the term "wishcasted" reality in place of contemporary.

Just listen to Disney, dreams do come true.

It can happen to you.

Michael K said...

I am not a fan of either "pop art" or "contemporary art" but my daughter works for such an artist.

He is named John Baldessari and he sells his art for millions.

I don't like it but, obviously, others do. She travels all over the world with him.

He has even encouraged her own efforts at art.

That was when she was working for a very high end gallery in Venice CA. Now she is back with Baldessari but talking to Apple about their design team. She has some of her own art in several local magazines. Baldessari has a couple hanging in his studio.

A classmate has a very successful artist as a son. The father, Mike Grotjahn is one of the few completely sane Psychiatrists I know. The son is a very successful artist in that same theme of modern, contemporary art.

Michael K said...

Bad link. Try this one.

Darrell said...

Nice article about your daughter, Michael K.

Laslo Spatula said...

Michael K, I enjoy your breadth of experience. Glad you are here at Althouse.

I am Laslo.

Michael K said...

Laslo, I enjoy your contributions even more.

madAsHell said...

I think Pop Art was the genesis of SnapChat. The day after tomorrow, and it is no longer interesting.

Michael K said...

"Nice article about your daughter, Michael K."

She is the one who speaks four languages, including Arabic. Among the things she mentions but did not describe were a year in Spain and two years of a PhD program at USC which would have included another year in Spain but she quit because she did not want to be an academic.

Her PhD was to be on Arabic manuscripts in Spain from the Andalusian period. I took her to Madrid in 2010 to attend a conference on those manuscripts that is held every decade.

tim maguire said...

I'm always annoyed by poseurs who pretend not to know the meaning of widely understood terms. Buy a dictionary.

urbane legend said...

John Baldessari. And the obligatory toilets. At least modern art is self-criticizing.

Michael K said...

"Buy a dictionary."

?????

robother said...

"It’s as if someone were inviting you to inspect the fist with which he simultaneously punches you.”

I see a great performance art piece at MOMA, White tie only, million a pop, everyone gets a signed numbered DVD of their personal KO.

tim maguire said...

Michael, that would be to look up the term "pop art," the meaning of which he pretends to not understand in order to manipulate the listener into thinking certain things of him.