James Rosenquist. F-111. 1964-65 455

Oil on canvas with aluminum, twenty-three sections, 10 x 86' (304.8 x 2621.3 cm). Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Alex L. Hillman and Lillie P. Bliss Bequest (both by exchange). © 2022 James Rosenquist/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

Artist, James Rosenquist: F-111, in 1965, was the latest American fighter-bomber in the planning stage. Its mission seemed obsolete before it was finished. It seemed the prime force of this war machine was to economically keep people employed in Texas and Long Island.

At the time, I thought people involved in its making were heading for something, but I didn't know what, like bugs going towards a blinding light. By doing this they could achieve two-and-a-half children, three-and-a-half cars, and a house in the suburbs.

In the painting I incorporated orange spaghetti, cake, light bulbs, flowers, and many other things. It felt to me like a plane flying through the flak of an economy. The little girl was the pilot under a hair-dryer. The town and country industrial auto tire resembles a crown. The umbrella and the Italian flowered wallpaper roller image had to do with atomic fallout. The swimmer gulping air was like searching for air during an atomic holocaust [...].

In 1964, the painting was originally designed to surround all the walls of the Leo Castelli Gallery on East 77th Street. The reason was I was concerned with peripheral vision. I wanted to specify that whatever one looked at would exist because of the peripheral vision that extends from the corner of the eye. Thus one would question one's own self-consciousness [...]. In the 1960s, the painting was critically taken as an anti-war protest, but there were a multiplicity of ideas that caused its existence.

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