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Richard Phillips

Rosenquist’s paintings presented me with the most radical idea of what Pop art could be. Even more than Warhol or Rauschenberg, Rosenquist brings both a kind of beauty and an idea of the spectacular into his pictures. I’m thinking back to the early paintings, those super-surreal, phenomenally disorienting images that seem critical of a media-based society. But I also think of his show at Leo Castelli in 1993, with paintings of dolls in wrappers. For me, that was a break from what is commonly understood about Rosenquist, and took place at a moment when painting had been put in a difficult position by events like Jeff Koons’s “Banality” show (1988), which shed such a harsh light on consumerism in art and entertainment. At the time, a lot of painting was attempting to be critical but served only as a kind of retrograde entertainment. Rosenquist’s work, on the other hand, with its sign-painting

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