Having sold his first painting to Robert Scull, the foremost collector of Pop art at the time, Rosenquist burst upon the scene with his first solo show at the Green Gallery in 1962. In the next two years, collectors such as Count Giuseppe Panza di Biumo acquired his work and Rosenquist was included in important exhibitions such as Six Painters and the Object at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in 1963 and Dorothy Miller’s Americans 1963 at the Museum of Modern Art. His highly evocative style of Pop art was also included in the influential international show, Amerikansk pop-kunst, at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm in 1964. Painted that year, Be Beautiful also figured in the influential 1964 show The American Supermarket at the Bianchini Gallery in New York which was sympathetic in tone to Claes Oldenburg’s famous Store of 1961. As John Rublowsky wrote in his seminal 1965 text on Pop art, “Conceived and organized by Ben Birillo, an artist who has been close to the pop movement since it began, it represented an exciting new concept in gallery exhibitions. A group of artists combined their efforts in the creation of an integrated environment based on a single theme. In this case, the gallery itself was arranged to resemble a supermarket, with aisles, cases, banked shelves, and even a check-out counter.” (John Rublowsky, Pop Art, New York, 1965, p. 174) Rublowsky proceeds to anecdotally describe the works that would join Be Beautiful in this consumerist and Pop cornucopia - Roy Lichtenstein’s enamel Hot Dog, a stacked pyramid of Campbell’s Tomato Soup Cans signed by Warhol, and most intriguingly, a masterpiece of Pop art in the most commonplace of descriptions: “Jasper Johns’s beer cans, created in 1959 as one of the first expressions of pop art, dominated the beverage department.” (Ibid., p. 174) The fact that one of Johns’s Painted Bronze sculptures of Ballantine Ale cans now resides in the Museum Ludwig, Cologne and Be Beautiful was recently in the revered collection of Dakis Joannou is testament to the title of the exhibition of Mr. Joannou’s collection in 1996 which included the present work: Everything That’s Interesting is New.
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