Today is the birthday of James Rosenquist

Born in 1933 in Grand Forks, North Dakota, James Rosenquist studied art at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts as a teenager and at the University of Minnesota between 1952 and 1954, painting billboards during the summers. In 1955 he moved to New York to study at the Art Students League. He left the school after one year, and in 1957 returned to life as a commercial artist, painting billboards in Times Square and across the city. By 1960, he had quit painting billboards and rented a small studio space in Manhattan where his neighbors included artists Robert Indiana, Ellsworth Kelly, and Jack Youngerman. In 1962, he had his first solo exhibition at the Green Gallery in New York, and afterward was included in a number of groundbreaking group exhibitions that established Pop art as a movement.

Rosenquist achieved international acclaim with his room-scale painting, F-111 (1965). In addition to painting, he has produced a vast array of prints, drawings, and collages; his print Time Dust (1992) is thought to be the largest print in the world, measuring seven by 35 feet. The artist has received numerous honors; he was selected as the Art in America Young Talent Painter in 1963, appointed to a six-year term on the Board of the National Council on the Arts in 1978, and nominated as a member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in 1987. Since his first early career retrospectives in 1972 organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne, he has been the subject of gallery and museum exhibitions in the U.S. and internationally. He continues to produce large-scale commissions, including the recent three-painting suite The Swimmer in the Economist (1997-98) for Deutsche Guggenheim, and has a painting planned for the ceiling of the Palais de Chaillot in Paris. From his early days as a billboard painter to his recent masterful use of abstract painting techniques, Rosenquist has demonstrated his interest in and mastery of color, line, and shape that continues to dazzle audiences and influence younger generations of artists.

The Colleges hold an extensive collection of the work of Rosenquist:
Rosenquist, James (b.1933, U.S.) Black Tie, 1977. Mixed media lithograph, 188 x 92 cm. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. William E. Welsh, Jr. P’84. hws-r-19.
Rosenquist, James (b.1933, U.S.) Coin Noir, 1977. Mixed media lithograph, 188 x 92 cm. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. William E. Welsh, Jr. P’84. hws-r-20.
Rosenquist, James (b.1933, U.S.) Derrière l’Étoile, 1977. Mixed media lithograph, 188 x 92 cm. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. William E. Welsh, Jr. P’84. hws-r-21.
Rosenquist, James (b.1933, U.S.) Elbow Lake, 1977. Mixed media lithograph, 188 x 92 cm. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. William E. Welsh, Jr. P’84. hws-r-22
Rosenquist, James (b.1933, U.S.) Fast Feast, 1977. Mixed media lithograph, 188 x 92 cm. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. William E. Welsh, Jr. P’84. hws-r-23.
Rosenquist, James (b.1933, U.S.) Horseblinders, East. 1972. Mixed media, lithograph, silkscreen, collage and mylar on Arches paper, 102 x 172 cm. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. William E. Welsh, Jr. P’84. hws-r-25.
Rosenquist, James (b.1933, U.S.) Horseblinders, North. 1972. Mixed media, lithograph, silkscreen, collage and mylar on Arches paper, 102 x 172 cm. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. William E. Welsh, Jr. P’84. hws-r-26.
Rosenquist, James (b.1933, U.S.) Horseblinders, South. 1972. Mixed media, lithograph, silkscreen, collage and mylar on Arches paper, 102 x 172 cm. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. William E. Welsh, Jr. P’84. hws-r-27.
Rosenquist, James (b.1933, U.S.) Horseblinders, West. 1972. Mixed media, lithograph, silkscreen, collage and mylar on Arches paper, 102 x 172 cm. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. William E. Welsh, Jr. P’84. hws-r-28.
Rosenquist, James (b.1933, U.S.) Sailor-Speed of Light, 1999. Lithograph 82 x 72 cm. Gift of the George D. and Freida B. Abraham Foundation. hws-r-29
Rosenquist, James (b.1933, U.S.) Violent Turn, 1977. Mixed media lithograph, 188 x 92 cm. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. William E. Welsh, Jr. P’84. hws-r-24.

Fiftieth Anniversary

Alden Projects on the Lower East Side is marking 50 years since Alan Sonfist proposed reclaiming land in New York City for memorials to lost nature.

The Origins of Manhattan’s Tiny Plot of Precolonial Terrain

Alan Sonfist (1946-)
View of Manhattan; Time Landscapes, series of 12, 1980
Lithograph, photo-collage and hand coloring, 72 x 72 cm.
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. William E. Welsh, Jr. P’84

Alan Sonfist is a New York City based United States artist most often associated with the Land or Earth Art movement. He is best known for his “Time Landscape” found on the corner of West Houston Street and LaGuardia Place in New York City’s Greenwich Village. Proposed in 1965, “Time Landscape” was not realized until 1978 under Mayor Ed Koch. It was eventually land marked by the city. It has often been cited as the first urban earthwork of its kind. More recently, Sonfist has continued to create artworks within the natural landscape, inaugurating a one-acre (4,000 m²) landscape project titled “The Lost Falcon of Westphalia” on Prince Richard’s estate outside Cologne, Germany in 2005.

Considered a pioneer of public, green art that celebrates our links to the land, to permaculture, Alan Sonfist is an artist who has sought to bridge the great gap between humanity and nature by making us aware of the ancient, historic and contemporary nature, geology, land forms and living species that are part of “living history”. With a reawakening of public awareness of environmental issues and of a need to regenerate our living planet Sonfist brings a much needed awareness of nature’s parallel and often unrecorded history and present in contemporary life and art. As early as 1965 Sonfist advocated the building of monuments dedicated to the history of unpolluted air, and suggested the migration of animals should be reported as public events. Alan Sonfist, Alan Sonfist, “Time Landscape of New York City”, outdoor installation, 1965- present. In an essay published in 1968 titled Natural Phenomena as Public Monuments, Sonfist emancipated public art from focusing exclusively on human history stating: “As in war monuments that record the life and death of soldiers, the life and death of natural phenomena such as rivers, springs, and natural outcroppings need to be remembered. Public art can be a reminder that the city was once a forest or a marsh.” Alan Sonfist continues to advocate, in his urban and rural artworks, projects that heighten our awareness of the historical geology or terrain of a place, earth cores become a symbol of the deeper history or geology of the land. His art emphasizes the layered and complex intertwining of human and natural history. He has bequeathed his body as an artwork to the Museum of Modern Art. Its decay is seen as an ongoing part of the natural life cycle process. Time Landscape (1965-1978-Present) is an artwork by Sonfist. It consists of plants that were native to this area in pre-colonial times. These planted were replanted here until 1978, on a rectangular plot of 25′ x 40′ situated in lower Manhattan at the northeast corner of LaGuardia Place and West Houston Street.

Sonfist, Alan. Nature: the end of art. Environmental landscapes, Alan Sonfist. Gli Ori, 2004 (ISBN 9780615125336)
What’s that forest doing in Greenwich Village? / urban art By: NADELMAN, Cynthia. ARTnews, November 1979, Vol. 78, p66-71, 6p

Art of the Week

Art of the Week

Tibetan, 19th century
Gouache on cotton, 33 x 28 cm.
Gift of J. R. von Reinhold Jamesson ‘51

Tibet is a plateau region in Asia, north-east of the Himalayas. It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups such as Monpas, Qiang, and Lhobas, and is now also inhabited by considerable numbers of Han and Hui people. Tibet is the highest region on earth, with an average elevation of 4,900 meters. Religion is extremely important to the Tibetans and has a strong influence over all aspects of their lives. Bön is the ancient religion of Tibet, but has been almost eclipsed by Tibetan Buddhism, a distinctive form of Mahayana and Vajrayana, which was introduced into Tibet from the Sanskrit Buddhist tradition of northern India. Tibetan representations of art are intrinsically bound with Tibetan Buddhism and commonly depict deities or variations of Buddha in various forms from bronze Buddhist statues and shrines, to highly colorful thangka paintings and mandalas.
A thangka, also known as tangka, thanka or tanka is a painting on silk with embroidery, usually depicting a Buddhist deity, scene, or mandala of some sort. The thankga is not a flat creation like an oil painting or acrylic painting but consists of a picture panel which is painted or embroidered over which a textile is mounted and then over which is laid a cover, usually silk. These thangka served as important teaching tools depicting the life of the Buddha, various influential lamas and other deities and bodhisattvas.

Tarthang Tulku. Sacred art of Tibet / Berkeley, Calif. : Dharma Publishing, 1974. N8193.3.T33 L677 1974
Landaw, Jonathan. Images of enlightenment : Tibetan art in practice / Ithaca, N.Y. : Snow Lion Publications, 1993. ND1432.C58 L36 1993
Liu, Lizhong. Buddhist art of the Tibetan Plateau / Hong Kong : Joint Publishing ; San Francisco, CA : Co-published and solely distributed in North America by China Books & Periodicals, 1988. PERRY QUARTO N8193 .L58 1988
Lauf, Detlef Ingo. Tibetan sacred art : the heritage of Tantra / Berkeley, Calif. : Shambhala : [New York] : distributed by Random House, 1976. QUARTO N8193.3.T35 L3813 1976
Leidy, Denise Patry. Mandala : the architecture of enlightenment / New York : Asia Society Galleries : Tibet House ; Boston : Shambhala, c1997. N8193.A3 N32 1997a
Tibetan art : towards a definition of style / London : Laurence King & Alan Marcuson ; New York : In association with Weatherhill, 1997. QUARTO N7346.T5 T555 1997

Art of the Week

Anuszkiewicz, Richard (1930-)
Blue to Red Portal, 1977
Screen print on masonite, 214 x 122 cm.
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. William E. Welsh, Jr. P’84

Richard Anuszkiewicz was born in Erie, Pennsylvania on May 23, 1930. He is an American painter, printmaker and sculptor. He trained at the Cleveland Institute of Art in Cleveland, Ohio (1948-53), and under Josef Albers at the Yale University School of Art and Architecture in New Haven, Connecticut (1953-5). In his paintings of the late 1940s and early 1950s he depicted everyday city life, as in The Bridge (1950). In 1957, he moved to New York, where from 1957 to 1958 he worked as a conservator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and from 1959 to 1961 as a silver designer for Tiffany. During this period, he began to produce abstract paintings, using either organic or geometric repeated forms, as in Winter Recipe (1958). These led in the early 1960s to asymmetric and imperfectly geometric works, such as Fluorescent Complement (1960), and then to more rigidly structured arrangements, for example In the Fourth of Three (1963), which consists of blue and green squares on a red ground. He often incorporated geometrical networks of colored lines, thus exploring the phenomenon of optical mixtures in these mature works, with which he made his contribution to Op Art, as in Iridescence (1965) although these sometimes extend only a little way in from the edge of the picture. The strong internal structure of each work is the result not of a rigid system, however, but of a trial-and-error approach to composition; from the early 1960s he applied these methods also to screen prints, lithographs and prints made by intaglio techniques, still within the terms of Op Art. In the late 1960s, he turned to sculpture, characteristically making painted wooden cubes, sometimes on a mirror base, as in Spiral (1967). In his later works, he remained faithful to the approach he established in the 1960s while developing subtler color modulations and sophisticated geometries. These were extended into low relief, with a new monumentality, in the mid-1980s. His main concern continued to be with the perception of colors and with the exploration of a variety of effects.

This particular print was created at the E. L. M. Print Studio and published by Editions Lassiter-Meisel in New York. It was pulled in 12 impressions, trimmed to the edge and mounted on masonite. All the stencils have been effaced.

New Gift

Gregory Gillespie (1936-2000)
Untitled, 1995
Oil on board, 76 x 61 cm
Gift of David Kaplan ‘66

Gregory Joseph Gillespie (November 29, 1936 – April 26, 2000) was an American magic realist painter. He was born in Roselle Park, New Jersey. After graduating from high school, he became a non-degree student at Cooper Union in New York. In 1959 he married Frances Cohen (1939–1998), who was also an artist, and the following year they moved to San Francisco where Gillespie studied at the San Francisco Art Institute. In 1962 he received the first of two Fulbright-Hays grants, for travel to Italy to study the work of Masaccio. He lived and worked in Florence for two years, and in Rome for six years, studying the works of such Renaissance masters as Carpaccio, Mantegna, and Carlo Crivelli, who was a particular favorite of Gillespie. During this time he was awarded three Chester Dale Fellowships and a Louis Comfort Tiffany grant. In 1971 he was elected into the National Academy of Design as an Associate member, and became a full Academician in 1994. He had his first solo show in 1966, at the Forum Gallery in New York. In 1970 he returned to the United States, where he settled in Williamsburg, Massachusetts. He exhibited in several Whitney Biennials, and in 1977 the Hirshhorn Museum organized a touring retrospective of his work. Gillespie became known for meticulously painted figurative paintings, landscapes, and self-portraits, often with a fantastical element. Many of his early works were made by painting over photographs cut from newspapers or magazines, transforming the scenes through photographic collage and by adding imaginary elements. In his later work he abandoned his early fascination with creating hyper-realized realistic imagery, instead focusing on a looser and more expressive style. He often combined media in an unorthodox way to create shrine-like assemblages. He was found dead in his studio in Belchertown, Massachusetts, apparently a suicide by hanging, on April 26, 2000.Gillespie’s work is in the collections of the Whitney Museum, the Arkansas Arts Center, and the Butler Institute of American Art, among others. The Hirshhorn Museum has at least fourteen works by Gillespie in its collection.