Rosenquist began the painting F-111 in 1964, in the middle of the Vietnam War. He positioned his main subject, the F-111 military plane, which was in development at the time, flying through fragmented images of consumer products and references to war. Through its expansive network of colliding visual motifs, F-111 addresses the connections between the Vietnam War, income taxes, consumerism, and advertising.

“Do wars support the military-industrial complex and therefore support the people?”—James Rosenquist

September 5, 2013

Poor, dear Valerie. Your analogy of the catapult builder would be appropriate if the catapult builder lobbied the politicians of the day to make sure there were sufficient conflicts for him to profit from his craft. Today’s “military industrial complex” (term coined by a retired military Republican president) makes sure sufficient conflicts exist to ensure a princely income stream for them and their shareholders. This might have existed in ancient days, but it’s now evolved to an art form, involving lobbyists, compliant Congressmen, and other stooges.

—Buddy, Dallas
August 8, 2013

War necessitates the military-industrial complex. The fact that there is an industry that profits from materials needed for war is secondary. No different than whatever company sprung up that makes handcuffs for use by our police officers. A necessary evil, nothing more, nothing less, but all a result because there is evil in the world and people are unable to govern themselves. I’m sure back in medieval days there was some guy in town making a living from building catapults. And you don’t impress with your revulsion over war. Nobody “likes” war, but at the same time the people who preach anti-war rhetoric the loudest are usually the very people who can’t even get along with their own family members. Stop being a hypocrite. Speaking of that, it would be interesting to know what Rosenquist’s family dynamics were like. I bet he was a hypocrite too.

—Valerie, Jacksonville
July 7, 2012

Yes, wars support the military-industrial complex. Some worker derive income, however the “product” is none productive, i.e. a farm tractor helps food production. A tank does not and consumes public funds.

—Tony, new york
July 6, 2012

Nothing about war supports people. All efforts towards war are destructive and evil. Peace is possible and miracles do happen.

—vanessa, New York
July 3, 2012

All wars support the Military-Industrial complex by definition, irespective of whether there are other reasons for fighting the war. Support for the Military-Industrial complex however does not equate to support for the people. To believe that it does suggests that jobs and income of the workers can be measured against the health and lives of those fighting and caught up in the conflict, it cannot

—Jon simpson, Sydney
July 2, 2012

“Wars” have been fought, are fought and will be fought for reasons other than the “support” of the “military-industrial complex;” and, may, or may not, “support” the “people.”

—Michael Stapenhorst, Bellaire, Texas
June 15, 2012

There are more productive ways to support the people: eg Electric Boat in CT turned down the Native American Indians’ request to build a ferry boat, declaring, “We build submarines!” And, that cruise ship that foundered in the Mediterranean was not equipped with environmental safeties for its fuel. A standard for all ships on our oceans would produce work in retrofitting & new construction. We the taxpayers pay the inflated, unjust compensation for the executives in the military-industrial complex. And, studies have shown that this complex produces fewer jobs than others. Where are the innovations in saving energy/conserving fuel/cleaning our one beautiful Earth, for which we have been expecting since the first Earth Day in the 1970’s? We are One Human Race on One Beautiful Earth! Read Albert Einstein & Others’ warning in 1955, please, & pass it on-

—Maryteresa (Missy) Conrad, Norwalk
March 30, 2012

If you ask the job-less and the homeless I wonder if they would care about the end use of labor. Their war is every day life …. a place to live …. food for the kids, Who kills whom in far off lands is something to be left to others. I think they might answer “yes and “yes”.

—Albert Wallack, NYC
February 27, 2012

I do not understand how you can relate an elitist complex, that makes huge amounts of money, and the people. Who are the people in your equation. Because in mine, wars support the military-industrial complex but feed on the people.

—Nytha Oronga, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
February 26, 2012

The military-industrial complex makes a state willing and able to implement the ultimate sacrifice. Without bearing any sacrifice, but only entailing the opposite.

—Jon M., Marquette, Michigan
February 22, 2012

Although I believe I understand what Rosenquist might be getting at, I still think we need to much more carefully look at what we mean by “support” and how it works.

—Elizabeth, St. Petersburg, Florida
February 15, 2012

The only people who support war, are profiteers and idiots. Violence at any level, can ONLY occur in the absence of Reason.

—Neil McKessy, Van Nuys
February 15, 2012

I remember a Borges’ comment”The man is prepared to die not to kill”

—Claudia Madariaga Guiñazu, Buenos Aires
February 15, 2012

It’s great that MoMA has decided to show this piece given its relevance to current affairs. So many themes resonate as loudly now as they did 50 ago but the context has shifted from surging global influence to contraction, possibly decline.

—Shannon, Brooklyn
February 14, 2012

This quote makes me think of Eugene Jarecki’s documentary “Why We Fight.” It includes Dwight Eisenhower’s farewell speech as President, in which he states “we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.”

—Victor S, Brooklyn
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“History is remembered by its art, not its war machines.”—James Rosenquist

June 4, 2013

I think history is remembered by both. For example : The abrupt end of the Mayans civilization around the 5th century which left only artifacts. And the atomic bomb that was dropped over Hiroshima in 1945.

—Patricia Lee, Houston, TX
July 2, 2012

History is the record of human endeavor. Art and war machines are but two of many categories that describe that endeavor.

—Michael Stapenhorst, Bellaire, Texas
May 10, 2012

History is remembered by the academia, art is remembered by artists, war is remembered by people.

—Lu Chen, Providence
March 30, 2012

Not its art …… but its wars. Art is not remembered by its paint.

—Albert Wallack, NYC
February 27, 2012

A note to my big brother

These artists and poets and writers want to pour out their hearts and thoughts for someone else to read. We all want to have this collective consciousness and in attempting to do can really put our finger on it. Without credit given beyond my heart and head and somewhat connected way with fingers remember home row and the muscle memory returns to advances I’ve thought I can take credit for. But hold on a minute now.
We like to say things like ‘in these modern times’ un-raw but not un-newsworthy as one man’s treasure becomes another man’s junk. Again, another ash falls from a lit cigarette of which muscle memory and habit is still junk and method to cohere.
Modern time only cluttered a bit more, only a bit more relaxed in the piles of bills scattered or neatly organized between the televisions silence or reminder. Beyond and equally in-between a typo on a social network and aside from the dog needing to be fed by human hand or refrigerators now having their own defrost cycles there is clutter. Away from the decomposition which now in mind’s eye can become reflected upon with much interlude and word and by God given the same breath should the mind and heart be intact beating in the same cycle away from a jogger’s monitor or dialysis machine.
This way I always grab some attention and then prefaced congenially attempt to back up and do what was easier for me to do and point out at the age of twelve negate all of this type of mumbo jumbo. OK, I’ll add that there’s reverse and rewind found on buttons in cars and everything else with pause equaling rest or rather return and burn the candles at both end I do while seeking like the rest for you, not of you.
Agreeing that I’ve come somewhere for you doesn’t necessarily mean I’ve authorized any leadership status amongst you but as your little or older brother or as your father or son or cousin, uncle, friend and so on am attempting not to rant out a complaint about how we are way out of our league. We are not modern at all. We have regressed without the need to philosophically point it out. Just because we can aim a anti air craft missile into the sky and press another button with or without realizing we’ve just lined someone’s pocket on cue in order to build an empire against a cause most aren’t willing to accept doesn’t mean we’ve evolved or the story has changed.
In this story I don’t point at or out anything. I am reminded of the sheer beauty of life and of a forested hilltop and the life that lives within. I am returning from sender to challenge our own beauty and to encompass a treasure golden and priceless and timeless within us all. The diagrams response near the maps and legends of modern man exist still beating smarter and less preoccupied enough now to notice all of the wrong things coming at us at FF speed toward need and greed in a skipped step method. While giving up our land has been thought and brought from times of old into new where defense now rides on the shoulders of babes and in the mouths of fools like it always has. I’m writing to you my sister, or daughter or mother or father or brother or friend in order to meet in the conceptual middle where the truth is good and God Hot in order to remember that science and relativity and coaxial cables connecting my thought to your heart and back to sender isn’t about growing up too fast or too slow but reminding yourself that while you look at the forest and the size and shape of the trees that my roots are asking yours to do, say, speak and think yourself towards the right things because I feel like we’ll all go timber someday. This is not no butterfly song that’s all soft and pretty. Those seasons are brutal and so are ours and the only thing modern about the present time is the gift from the past and besides I really am your brother and sometimes your job isn’t just killing you…’s killing us all while ceasing to explain how it is better for us period.

—Bryan Conley, Visalia
February 26, 2012

plus ca change…

—Carmen-Elizabeth Guzman Lombert, New York
February 23, 2012

The designers of the F-111 and other military machines consider them as beautiful as works of art. They are beautiful examples of design, if also machines of war. My father flew the F-111 and many other Air Force planes, he loved the feeling of power and the freedom of flight they enabled. I grew up on an Air Force base in Southern California, and saw a reproduction of this painting hung on base when I was about 7 years old – the Air Force must have had an appreciation for Rosenquist’s work…

—teri, San Francisco, CA
February 20, 2012

No one ever looks at the beauty of war, because we immediately think of its horrors. Although, many famous pieces has captured war into history within its art. Meaning that it details war in a way that is admirable. Again, no one really wants to think of war, but when you think of the art brought by it, such as its war machines, it shows the past’s creativity and astounding works. Not only do we remember it, but we use it to influence greater works in future times. When war machines are thought of, it brings horrific scenes to many, but to others, it brings inspiration through its amazing infrastructure.

—Penny , Windsor, CT
February 18, 2012

Without ART, there is no civilization. Without civilization, there is no history.

—Karen La Du, Bay Head, NJ
February 16, 2012

I think Rosenquist is only a third of the way there. It may be more accurate to say art, war/gov’t. and religion define history in parallel unison. Yes, art can certainly provide a time reference by virtue of style, artist or subject matter, but more often than not political and religious influence is the catalyst. Think Gothic art, Dada, Pollock.

—Damian Tattam, Ipswich, MA
February 16, 2012

History is written through its wars but relived through its art

—Punk Toad, Oakland
February 16, 2012

I certainly hope so, ^0^ not weapons

—Hanske Roorda, Amsterdam
February 15, 2012

Probably depends on whether you are an art buff or a war buff.

—Connie Fauth, Washington
February 15, 2012

Isn’t the process of making art (and history) partly concerned with boiling the political context down to an artefact or document that becomes a barometer of feeling or opinion about the context that triggered its creation. E.g. Pillars of Society by George Grosz; Front Line Mickey by John Keane; It is what it is by Jeremey Deller; The Greatest Threat: Iraq, Weapons of Mass Destruction, and the Crisis of Global Security by Richard Butler.

—Martin Hinchcliffe, Sheffield
February 15, 2012

This is truly amazing! Thank you MoMA for sharing…

—Thea Tinsley, Scottsdale
February 15, 2012

I think it’s entirely up to who is doing the remembering. I don’t think they agree with Mr. Rosenquist at the Pentagon.

—Neil McKessy, Van Nuys
February 15, 2012

I applaud MoMA for bringing Rosenquist’s work and ideas to the forefront. It is good for us to think about the multifaceted nature of our humanity. How ironic that an invention borne from mankind’s aspirations to be closer to the avian world -and god- through flight, continues to be a conduit through which we channel our darkest angels–who sanitize what Tim O’Brien calls “sanctioned homicide”–war.

—Greg Andrews, Windsor, CT
February 15, 2012

Picasso, who created one of the world’s most powerful anti-war paintings (Guernica) would most likely agree

—Rebecca, NY
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“In F-111, I question the collusion between the Vietnam War, income taxes, consumerism, and advertising.”—James Rosenquist

July 27, 2012

And where you see the criticism?
This is a common advertising of war, income taxes, consumerism, and advertising.

—sev, Los Angeles
July 2, 2012

Collusion? Note the word “queen” on the hair dryer on the girl’s head, painted in the black space in the middle, in a different tone of black. Did we (do we) subscribe our consumerism and militarism, as something we do for our children? Are they our royalty? Do we do it all for our queen? To keep her safe and happy? Is this what we adults believe is necessary to keep the queen smiling?

—John, NYC
July 2, 2012

Why limit the “collusion” (AMONG) to: Vietnam War, income taxes, consumersim and advertising?…effectively limiting the set of facts and factors to a juxtapostion of pejorative terms possibly reflective of a preconceived notion.

—Michael Stapenhorst, Bellaire, Texas
February 28, 2012

I think somehow the bright colours and fractured images represented relate to the distraction advertising/consumerism puts in place for any person from what is really happening. There isn’t a “natural” link between the above mentioned, instead it is something below the surface as in the instillation F-111.

—Heather, Dubai
February 18, 2012

I often think: “How can there be violence?” “How can there be war?” “Isn’t the human spirit… human?”

Then I think: “Why did my brothers fight?” Then I thought, “Why did my children fight?” Now I think, “Why do my grandchildren fight?”

Have we all just wanted peace, except someone wanted to treat me like a brother, son, grandson?

Today I’m in acceptance. I know: no painting or will or ideology or religion or thesis… will get constant peace or war or good or bad. So we seek our god’s… God’s will be done.

—GogogoStopSTOP, Columbia, Maryland
February 15, 2012

I think I love anything that criticizes war and bad advertising, and questions consumerism and where our dollars go as taxpayers. Sad but illuminating to be reminded how current issues we grapple with were just as resonant 40 years ago…I’m trying to think of other artwork that took on these subjects, hmm. If anyone can think of anything, post it!

—Jocelyn, NY
February 15, 2012

Given Rosenquist’s background, the billboard size scale of this piece definitely references advertising. I wonder how many contemporary viewers, who experience so many kinds of advertising, very little of it handmade, still make this connection.

—Ellie, Brooklyn
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Pictured above: James Rosenquist. F-111. 1964–65. Oil on canvas with aluminum, 23 sections. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Alex L. Hillman and Lillie P. Bliss Bequest (both by exchange). © 2012 James Rosenquist/Licensed by VAGA, New York

The installation is made possible by BNP Paribas