PRINT October 2003

Barbara Kruger

Rosenquist’s work has all these beautifully thought-out, sumptuous, wonderful juxtapositions. There’s a fluency to how his images work together—how they both mesh and clash. I think that comes from his experience with sign painting, working with vernacular images, playing with them on a grand scale, through which he seems to have developed a designer’s eye. In a world in which almost everything seems designed—from botany and bodies to the built environment—it’s clear that every creative decision is engaging questions of the “look.” This incremental process of arranging things moves toward a kind of semblance of beauty. Rosenquist seems to have used the constraints of a client relationship, something designers deal with all the time—you’re doing the Avis account this week, the Benetton account next week—and transformed what he learned on the job into his work, morphing someone else’s image of perfection into his own, making it art.

The power of his visual disjunctions plays like a kind of pre-Photoshop Photoshop. It’s the notion of the crop, the zoom, the close-up, the fragment—which would not have been possible without the growth and preponderance of photographic technology. And the move from photographic to digital technology has accelerated this kind of visual play. People who grew up with television and movies, and now computers with their streaming digital feeds, read information quickly. Rosenquist’s imagery works very well in this context. His paintings have a matte quality but are glossy when reproduced. They seem context friendly and easily adapt from one medium to another: from the surface of the painting to the surface of the page and the screen. It’s interesting, because as paintings they benefit from scale, but as reproductions they benefit from surface.

A major installation by Barbara Kruger is on view in “me & more” at the Kunstmuseum Luzern through next month. She is currently at work on a video project.