F-111Painting | James Rosenquist By Avram Finkelstein
Way back in the Twentieth Century, before everyone knew what inkjet printers were, people painted billboards by hand. That's how James Rosenquist first paid the bills. So when he conceived of F-111, on view at MoMA through July 30, 2012, he was uniquely poised to create this historic piece of agitprop, and not simply as a technician. Coming straight out of advertising he easily found a voice for his commentary on commercial production, capital and the postwar institutionalization of militarism. The artist began painting F-111 after Lyndon Johnson's escalation of the Vietnam War, and it was shown before the protests were part of the daily news cycle. This work was not only starkly political against the landscape of the New York Pop Art scene. It was groundbreaking. Somehow, however, it is oddly domesticated in its current incarnation. It's all there: the A Bomb, the phallocentrism, the overconsumption. There are even forgotten treats, like the opalescent black glitter in the sea diver vignette, the modernity of the aluminum panels, and the silk-screened wallpaper patterns. Okay, maybe it's just anachronistic. Or maybe, as with everything else in an increasingly sophisticated world, we think we know what we're looking at before we've even laid eyes on it.
|James Rosenquist: F-111|