Dance of the Electrical Nymphs, painted in 1987, is a prime example of Rosenquist’s late career themes and styles, utilizing fragmented mass media and advertising imagery to initially introduce a familiar sense of modern life but thoroughly subverting that feeling with his own artistic message. The backdrop and base imagery for Untitled is of floral life forced up close upon the viewer with large swaths of green, blues, and pinks decorating the canvas in an almost patterned way. The intensely vivid style of the flowers in their intimate closeness renders them immediately sensuous and seductive as Rosenquist’s muse and symbol of his love of nature. The idyllic imagery though is introduced with visual intrigue with the curvilinear gashes sliced across the base image. Inside these cuts are close ups of female faces, a jarring intervention into the harmonious imagery of flora. These faces, forced even more up against the picture plane and the base plant imagery, focus on the lips and eyes and show the mechanical sources of the imagery as they are seemingly lifted straight from magazine and billboard advertisements. These consumerist images, in jolting juxtaposition with the plant life, show Rosenquist’s distillation of imagery and his ability to reveal the mechanics of desire and underlying commercialization that has had a negative impact on our planet.
As Sarah Bancroft writes, “Rosenquist began on ongoing series inspired by flora around his Florida studio, painting the flowers of this tropical climate in all their bravura and delicacy, lush depictions of plant life are interspersed with the faces of women. The precise markings of this human interference allude to the mechanical and technological progress that, like the images, is often at odds with nature. The artists describes these lusciously painted floral and aquatic works as ‘ecological and political paintings’ that address the fragility of life on earth”(Sarah Bancroft, Exh. Cat. Guggenheim Bilbao, James Rosenquist: A Retrospective, 2004).
There is peculiar violence of the cutting motion that charges all across the canvas, slicing nature with the stark human facial features collaged in the cuts. Rosenquist’s violence stems from the suddenness of the collage. Rosenquist has noted “The essence of collage is to take very disparate imagery and put it together and the result becomes an idea, not so much a picture. It’s like listening to the radio and getting your own idea from all these images that are often antidotes – acid – to each other. They make sparks or they don’t. The best this is that they make sparks” (James Rosenquist, quoted in J. Blaut, “James Rosenquist: Collage and the Painting of Modern Life,” in W. Hopps & S. Bancroft, James Rosenquist: A Retrospective, exh. cat., New York, 2003, p. 17). By forcing the interaction of the plant and human imagery Rosenquist calls attention to the interaction, contrast, and specificity of each image through his brushwork and arrangement. In Dance of the Electrical Nymphs he synthesizes the imagery into poetry on the canvas that rings home his passion and dedication to his planet and the entirety of nature, creating those “sparks” that directly impact the viewer.
Please call 1-800-555-5555 to order a print catalog for this sale.