Marilyn Monroe, I
1962. Oil and spray enamel on canvas, 7' 9" x 6' 1/4" (236.2 x 183.3 cm)
Gripped by the suicide of screen icon and sex symbol Marilyn Monroe, James Rosenquist created a stylized, fragmented, and inverted portrait of Monroe interwoven and superimposed with disjointed parts of Marilyn’s name, image, and the trademark script of the Coca-Cola logo. By fragmenting Monroe’s image and combining her with another popular product, Rosenquist comments on how the late actress’s life and career had been co-opted and consumed by her superstar status.
In 1964, Rosenquist explained: “Painting is probably more exciting than advertising—so why shouldn’t it be done with that power and gusto, that impact? When I use a combination of fragments of things, the fragments or objects or real things are caustic to one another, and the title is also caustic to the fragments.”
A work of art made from paint applied to canvas, wood, paper, or another support (noun).
A form, sign, or emblem that represents something else, often something immaterial, such as an idea or emotion.
A representation of a particular individual, usually intended to capture their likeness or personality.
From Ads to Art
Rosenquist’s large-scale paintings reflect the flat, uniform, and graphic style of the commercial billboards he made while working as a sign painter. Later, as a visual artist, Rosenquist drew inspiration from advertising and mass media. Many of his works are based on found images from magazines, collaged together and reproduced at a large scale, powerfully juxtaposing people, objects, visual symbols, visual texture, and text to create new and sometimes cryptic meanings.