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Joy, Love and Peace: The Peter B. Lewis Collection

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New York

James Rosenquist
B.1933
THE SERENADE FOR THE DOLL AFTER CLAUDE DEBUSSY, GIFT WRAPPED DOLL #19

Provenienz

Leo Castelli Gallery, New York
Acquired by the present owner from the above in April 1993

Ausgestellt

New York, Leo Castelli Gallery, James Rosenquist, March - April 1993 

Literatur

Eleanor Heartney, "Malevolent Dolls," ARTnews, New York, Summer 1993, p. 167, illustrated
Exh. Cat., Chicago, Richard L. Feigen & Company, Incorporated, James Rosenquist: Gift Wrapped Doll or Serenade for the Doll after Claude Debussy, Chicago, 1993, p. 21, illustrated in color
Exh. Cat., New York, Leo Castelli Gallery, James Rosenquist: The Serenade for the Doll after Claude Debussy or Gift Wrapped Dolls & Masquerade of the Military Industrial Complex Looking Down on the Insect World, New York, 1993, p. 11, illustrated in color
Edward Lucie-Smith, Artoday, London, 1995, p. 19, illustrated
John Russell, "Gallery View: A Painter Finds That Dolls Can Be Dynamite," The New York Times, New York, April 1993, p. H30, not illustrated

Katalognotizen

In 1992, Rosenquist began his series The Serenade for the Doll after Claude Debussy or Gift Wrapped Dolls. Each painting follows the same format: a 5-foot by 5-foot close-up of the face of a blue-eyed baby Kewpie doll wrapped in clear cellophane.  He describes this series as a response to the AIDS crisis: “The Serenade for the Doll after Claude Debussy or Gift Wrapped Dolls are a result of my feelings about the child who has to look forward to the difficulty of relationships because of AIDS. The coolness, thoughtfulness that will be in a young romance make it seem the complete antithesis of passion. These paintings are painted from dolls covered in plastic wrap and they’re not altered in an expressionist abstract way. There is a tendency, however, to add humanism to the dolls’ faces which I remember the Surrealists did when they dressed stark wooden mannequins up in well-worn old clothes… I’m fascinated by the reflective plastic and how it changed the color of everything underneath. It is something else. One could see this on a doll, on a shelf in a store as a child could and would they want it. That’s what brought to mind AIDS. Is one tantalized by something one desires that looks ugly but beautiful?” (James Rosenquist, interviewed by David Whitney in Exh. Cat., New York, Leo Castelli Gallery, James Rosenquist: The Serenade for the Doll after Claude Debussy or Gift Wrapped Dolls & Masquerade of the Military Industrial Complex Looking Down on the Insect World, March – April 1993, p. 3).

It is relevant to Rosenquist’s large doll paintings that in his late 50’s he had a 3-year-old daughter. In both the subject chosen (the doll) and the issue broached (the AIDS crisis), underlying the Gift Wrapped Doll series is a general concern for the well-being of future generations. The gift wrap may be interpreted in two different ways: On one hand the wrap can be seen as the protection without which the doll cannot go out into the universe. On the other hand, the wrapping suffocates the doll, thwarting its ability to perceive and experience the outside world. These opposing forces are not unlike what a parent might feel about their child’s interaction with the world. “These paintings are about being protected, but they are also about being smothered. They are about being pulled about life in babyhood, almost, but they are also about the fires of rage and resistance that can blaze up at an early age” (John Russell, “A Painter Finds That Dolls Can Be Dynamite,” The New York Times, April 11, 1993, p. H30). In The Serenade for the Doll after Claude Debussy, Gift Wrapped Doll #19 the idealized and exaggerated features of the of the Kewpie doll are distorted by the iridescent cellophane that distorts her face behind rainbow hues. “The image is fresh, disturbing and psychologically complex. It provides a powerful metaphor for the danger of AIDS and the more general perils of sexuality and intimacy in our troubled times” (Eleanor Heartney, “Malevolent Dolls,” ARTnews, Summer 1998, p. 167).

Joy, Love and Peace: The Peter B. Lewis Collection

|
New York