f 111

Happy 83rd birthday to James Rosenquist!

“Popular culture isn’t a freeze-frame; it is images zapping by in rapid-fire succession, which is why collage is such an effective way of representing contemporary life. The blur between images creates a kind of motion in the mind.”

Happy 83rd birthday to James Rosenquist! In his 86-foot-long F-111, Rosenquist depicts an F-111 plane flying through fragmented images of consumer products and references to war, addressing the connections between the Vietnam War, income taxes, consumerism, and advertising. F-111 is now on view.

[James Rosenquist. F-111. 1964-65. Oil on canvas with aluminum, twenty-three sections. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Alex L. Hillman and Lillie P. Bliss Bequest (both by exchange). © 2016 James Rosenquist/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY]

An air-to-air right side view of, from foreground: an F-16C Fighting Falcon aircraft armed with AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles, an F-111A aircraft, an F-15C Eagle aircraft and an A-10A Thunderbolt II aircraft armed with AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles. The F-16C, F-15C and the A-10A are from the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron while the F-111A is from the 431st Test and Evaluation Squadron. The aircraft are in-flight over Hoover Dam.

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James Rosenquist, F-111, 1965. 23 sections, oil and aluminum on canvas. American Pop Art

MoMA on F-111:

James Rosenquist began to paint the 86-foot-long F-111 in 1964, in the middle of one of this country’s most turbulent decades. Inspired by advertising billboards and by earlier mural-scaled paintings, such as Claude Monet’s Water Lilies, he designed its 23 panels to wrap around the four walls of the Leo Castelli Gallery at 4 East 77th Street in Manhattan, where it would be displayed the following year. Rosenquist took as his subject the F-111 fighter bomber plane, the newest, most technologically advanced weapon in development at the time, and positioned it, as he later explained, “flying through the flak of consumer society to question the collusion between the Vietnam death machine, consumerism, the media, and advertising.” Its jumps of scale, collage-like juxtaposition of fragments of imagery, and gloriously vivid palette exemplify the style that defines Rosenquist’s singular contribution to Pop art in the United States. 

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The Su-24 remains a powerful long-range, low-level strike attack aircraft with real all-weather precision attack capability. With its variable geometry swing wing and side-by-side cockpit, the Su-24 is inevitably compared with the US General Dynamics F-111. The aircraft was never intended or used as a strategic bomber, however, a fact obscured by such comparisons.