Rosenquist had an itinerant childhood. An only
child he moved with his family frequently throughout
the Midwest. His parents shared with him their
interest in airplanes and things mechanical.
In junior high school Rosenquist took art classes,
and he later won a scholarship to attend Saturday
classes at the Minneapolis School of Art. After
high school he enrolled in the University of
Minnesota's art program, studying with Cameron
Booth. During the summer he worked for a contractor
in Iowa, Wisconsin, and North Dakota, painting
signs and bulk storage tanks.
In 1954 Rosenquist painted his first billboard
for General Outdoor Advertizing in Minneapolis.
A year later, on scholarship to the Art Students
League in New York, Rosenquist studied with
Edwin Dickinson, Will Barnet, Morris Kantor,
George Grosz, and Vaclav Vytacil.
In 1957 Rosenquist joined the sign painters
union and in 1958 went to work for ArtKraft
Strauss Company painting billboards. He also
worked on window displays for Bonwit Teller
and Tiffany and Company.
By 1960 Rosenquist had set aside enough of his
commercial earnings to allow him to spend a
year painting in his studio. He moved to Coenties
Slip, where he shared a loft with Charles Hinman.
Rosenquist had tentatively explored the use
of commercial methods and materials in his studio
work of the late 1950s but after his move to
the Slip, he left behind both the abstract expressionist
and figurative modes he had employed in his
early work and developed the montage like arrangement
of deliberately fragmented images from popular
culture--inconsistently scaled and enigmatically
juxtaposed--that characterized the monumental
paintings of his mature style.
Rosenquist had his first one-man exhibition
at the Green Gallery in New York in 1962, and
every painting was sold. In 1963 he completed
a mural for the New York World's Fair, and Art
in America selected him as "Young Talent
Painter" of the year. Two years later the
artist finished painting the monumental, highly
publicized F-111, which toured Europe during
the 1960s and has been considered an important
expression of the anti-Vietnam War movement.
During the 1970s he became active in issues
of artists' rights legislation. In 1976 Rosenquist
built his house and studio in Aripeka, Florida.
Since the early 1960s, Rosenquist has worked
extensively at numerous printmaking workshops
in addition to Graphicstudio, including Aeropress,
Gemini G.E.L., Petersburg Press, Styria Studio,
Tyler Graphics, Ltd., and Universal Limited
Art Editions. Among Rosenquist's honors is the
World Print Award, which he received in 1983
from the World Print Council at the San Francisco
Museum of Modern Art.
A retrospective of Rosenquist's graphic work
was held at the John and Mable Ringling Museum
of Art, Sarasota, Florida, in 1979. Additional
exhibitions of his prints have been held at
Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (1975), Smith College
Museum of Art (1985), and the U.S.F. Art Galleries
Important one-man exhibitions of Rosenquist's
work have been held at the Museo d'arte moderna,
Turin, Italy (1965), National Gallery of Canada,
Ottawa (1968), Wallraf-Richartz Museum, Cologne
(1972), Whitney Museum of American Art, New
York (1972), National Gallery of Victoria, Australia
(1977), Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo (1979),
Denver Art Museum (1985), and Florida State
University, Fine Art Gallery, Tallahassee (1988).
(Fine/Corlett 1991, 209).