An HBO film crew was recently on hand for an event at the Miami Art Museum. Their focus-- a lesson by James Rosenquist. Those in attendance observed as Rosenquist turned a blank canvas into a study of color. The 74 year old Pop Art titan, as labeled by the Miami Herald, displayed painting techniques as onlookers-- including 28 art students selected by the youngARTS program of the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts-- observed the artist in action.
Rosenquist showed students different ways of mixing and applying paint while discussing his paintings. During the event Rosenquist offered advice about painting. At one point he warned students that using ready-made black paint will result in “mud”-- a basic lesson that is often missed in art classrooms. After the lesson Rosenquist answered questions about his career, art, and world issues.
During the event Rosenquist did not shy away from the fact that he is not a fan of computer based art. He stated, “Youngsters want to push a button to create artwork”. He went on to say that painting is, “done with a paintbrush.''. Rosenquist’s opinion comes as no surprise to me. In a 2008 interview I conducted for the Myartspace Blog he stated, “I'm not all that interested in the Internet. I don't use the Internet as a source for my work and I doubt I ever will. This goes for other types of high technology as well-- such as virtual reality. I'm just not interested in it. I guess you could say that I like things simple. I like painting to be simple. It fascinates me to create beautiful paintings with the simplest means. I'm more interested in the way that people paint with sticks, cloth, or brushes instead of high technology.”
Art critics and the media often describe James Rosenquist as a “Pop Art titan”-- the Miami Herald went as far as to call him “one of the last surviving titans of the Pop Art Movement”. I find that interesting because Rosenquist is not exactly fond of the labels. In fact, he stated the following when I asked him if he is comfortable being labeled as a Pop artist in 2008-- “They called me a Pop artist because I used recognizable imagery. The critics like to group people together. I didn't meet Andy Warhol until 1964. I did not really know Andy or Roy Lichtenstein that well. We all emerged separately.”
Consider this an open discussion about James Rosenquist, labels that art critics and the media attach to artists, and how the practice of painting is changing-- is it? Is a digital paintbrush just as good as the 'real' thing? What say you?
Links of Interest:
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New York Art Exchange