new-york

James Rosenquist

Gagosian Gallery (21)

James Rosenquist has always been in a class of his own within Pop art, never quite boarding the Warholian media-imagery bandwagon. While appropriating banal all-American imagery, he combines it in an incongruous way suggestive of a Surrealist esthetic that is particularly reminiscent of René Magritte. That is, Rosenquist’s early pictures—which this exhibition justifiably suggests have become “classic”—reflect neither the slick irony, inadvertent black humor, nor obsession with fame-seeking associated with Pop art; rather, they seem mysterious and unfathomable, even thirty years after they were made. Not only do they continue to look ingeniously unintelligible, but their nightmarish character has become clear.

In A Lot to Like, 1962, erratic shards of commonplace imagery—a football player, a man’s suit jacket, a single-edged razor blade, a black umbrella, a hand combing hair, a man’s naked

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