Phillips announces works from the James Rosenquist Estate, an auction dedicated to the pop artist's iconic prints
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Phillips announces works from the James Rosenquist Estate, an auction dedicated to the pop artist's iconic prints
James Rosenquist, Spaghetti, 1970. Estimate: $3,000 - 5,000.

NEW YORK, NY.- Phillips will present Works from the James Rosenquist Estate, the largest Rosenquist print auction and exhibition to date, which celebrates the evolution of the artist’s printmaking from 1965 to 2012. The auction on 15 February marks the first time that these impressions will be offered for sale publicly, after having long been cherished by the artist’s family. Open to the public at 432 Park Avenue from 1 – 14 February, Phillips offers an extended opportunity for the public to view this unparalleled curation of Rosenquist’s print oeuvre. Interspersed throughout the main gallery installation will also be a selection of source collages on loan from the James Rosenquist Estate, displayed alongside those works being offered for auction, adding to the depth of work on offer and a glimpse into the artist’s creative process.

One of the original Pop artists, Rosenquist consistently pushed the boundaries of image making and embraced printmaking techniques to further present a lifelong body of work that consistently commented on consumerism and American life across the second half of the 20th century. Many of the works in the sale have been included in esteemed museum exhibitions. Some of the most notable impressions being sold are F-111, Welcome to the Water Planet, The Bird of Paradise Approaches the Hot Water Planet, and Time Door Time D'Or, which were exhibited in James Rosenquist, Painting as Immersion, the acclaimed retrospective presented by Museum Ludwig, Cologne from November 2017 to March 2018. In addition, the works Welcome to the Water Planet, 1987, and Off the Continental Divide, 1973-74, were included in the James Rosenquist: A Retrospective at the Guggenheim, along with Night Smoke II, 1969–72, and Head Stand, 1977.

Cary Leibowitz and Kelly Troester, Worldwide Co-Heads of Editions and Deputy Chairpersons, Americas, said, “We’re incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to work with the James Rosenquist Estate on this monumental project. The selection on offer spans the entirety of Rosenquist’s career and chronicles many of his significant collaborations. From the early days at Tanya Grosman’s U.L.A.E. workshop, to establishing his own print shop, Aripeka Ltd Editions, in Florida and engaging in cutting-edge collaborations with Ken Tyler, Rosenquist represents a lifetime of dedication to the innovation of the print medium. It's exciting to introduce these prints to a new group of collectors who are discovering Rosenquist for the first time and re-introduce him in this robust context to seasoned collectors and scholars. We’re looking forward to welcoming visitors into the gallery in February to experience this important body of work.”

As a recognizable motif in many of James Rosenquist’s works, the sinuous form of spaghetti permeates the vernacular of Pop that has come to define much of his career, reaching its pinnacle with the 1970 print Spaghetti. The image, first used in the 1961 painting I Love You With My Ford, has made its iconic appearance in F-111, Forehead I and II, among others. Besides being a budget meal enjoyed by the artist and friends early in his career, Rosenquist regarded the image of spaghetti as a manifestation of pure color and form. In the 1970s, Rosenquist revisited many of his early Pop paintings and translated them into print media. Hey! Let’s Go for a Ride, 1972, was also painstakingly re-rendering by hand to create the lithograph, providing an opportunity re-examine the work that had identified him at the height of the Pop movement.

Another highlight of the sale is Rosenquist’s F-111, 1974. Based on his monumental and immersive painting of the same name, Rosenquist uses a Pop lens to tell the story of life in America on the cusp of atomic uncertainty. The painting is currently on view at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and is the institution’s largest painting. Substantial in their own right, each print measures nearly 6 feet in length and together the series spans over 24 feet, capturing the viewer’s attention in the same way the painting has mesmerized on-lookers for nearly 60 years. However, it wasn’t largeness on its own that interested the artist – it was in presenting work at a significant scale that forced the viewer to question the self, specifically when it engulfs the peripheral vision. The print series, published by Petersburg Press in 1974, endeavors to emulate a similar monumental feeling by dividing the image into four prints, each named after the direction of the wall in Leo Castelli’s gallery where the painting would have originally been hung.

In 1987, Rosenquist released his first prints in the Welcome to the Water Planet series, some measuring up to 10 feet across, shattering earlier limitations of scale and technique. In this series, one can see the artist’s earlier interest in consumer culture evolve to reflect the intwined fate of man and nature in a world determined by advertising, technology, and science. The first two works, Welcome to the Water Planet, 1987, and The Prickly Dark, 1987, are rich monumental aquatints printed at Graphicstudio in Tampa, Florida. Following these prints, Rosenquist spent a year with Ken Tyler of Tyler Graphics experimenting with paper pulp, stencils, and lithographic collage to produce some of the most impressive feats of printmaking in the three works from that series on offer – The Bird of Paradise Approaches the Hot Water Planet, 1989, Time Door Time D'Or, 1989, and Space Dust, 1989. Enormous in scale, these prints are a technical tour de force that required the creation of entirely new papermaking machinery and dynamic systems to produce the vibrant handmade sheets. This groundbreaking series solidified Rosenquist’s status as one of the most innovative printmakers of the American print renaissance.

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