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James Rosenquist

Currently not on display
Acquired in 1973
Inventory number 593

The Van Abbemuseum Collection consists of over 3400 artworks. We publish texts and images on an ongoing basis, but this record is currently in the process of being documented.

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All sorts of articles can be identified in this lithograph with nine colours by James Rosenquist, such as the packaging for a detergent, cans of soup, paint and engine oil, the sole of a shoe and a plate with round cut out shapes. The objects are represented in black. The other eight colours are not linked to the objects but are divided over the paper in an abstract way. They partly overlap, which produces new shades as a result of the mixture of the colours. The objects have been depicted from different perspectives and they are cut off at the edges of the print.

Rosenquist used images and situations which he saw and experienced in everyday life as the starting point for his paintings and prints. He combined them using a collage technique to achieve a kaleidoscopic effect. In his paintings in particular, the combinations sometimes appear to be entirely unrelated in terms of content. The alienating effect resulting from this is further intensified because the fragments of the images differ from each other in terms of size and scale. Sometimes they appear to be partly cut off, or they can overlap each other or join together in different directions. This results in images which are difficult for the viewer to grasp immediately. It was not Rosenquist’s intention to confront the viewer with a “finished” image. In this respect, he explained: “I never consider my work to be finished. I see it as a way of allowing people to pursue their own vision.”

Like Warhol, Oldenburg and Lichtenstein, Rosenquist is considered to belong to the American Pop Art movement. The use of advertising materials and consumer articles as the starting point for an image is something these artists all have in common. In contrast with Rosenquist, the other above-mentioned artists represented a particular product or fragment of an image in isolation. It was usually enlarged or reproduced to become a contemporary icon. However, Rosenquist was fascinated by the possibility of constantly making new discoveries, both in life and in his work. In some cases, titles are puns or lead to new possibilities for associations. The title 'Mastaba' (an ancient Egyptian monumental tomb) could be a reason to see the objects in this print as products which have come to the end of their life. However, Rosenquist could also have been referring to the Egyptian custom of giving the dead articles and food to take with them in their grave.