With the ma­jor ex­hi­bi­tion on James Rosen­quist (1933–2017), for the first time ev­er the Mu­se­um Lud­wig will pre­sent the works of this im­por­tant rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Amer­i­can Pop Art in the con­text of their cul­tu­r­al, so­cial, and po­lit­i­cal di­men­sions. Along with archive ma­te­rials, some of which have not pre­vi­ous­ly been ex­hibit­ed, as well as col­lages desig­nat­ed by the artist as source ma­te­rials and many of the orig­i­nal ad­ver­tise­ments that he used from old is­sues of Life mag­azine, the show will re­veal a his­tor­i­cal cos­mos. Af­ter all, James Rosen­quist’s com­po­si­tions are to a large ex­tent the re­sult of his marked in­ter­est in the so­cial and po­lit­i­cal events of his time.

A good ex­am­ple is the im­pres­sive in­s­tal­la­tion F-111, one of the icons of the Pop era. Rosen­quist cre­at­ed it in 1964-65, dur­ing one of the most po­lit­i­cal­ly tur­bu­lent de­cades in Unit­ed States his­to­ry. As the work’s main sub­ject he chose the F-111 fight­er jet, a state-of-the-art, high-tech weapon then un­der de­vel­op­ment, and unsettling­ly com­bined it with im­ages of ev­ery­day Amer­i­can con­sumerism. The paint­ing sur­rounds the view­er on all sides. Re­flect­ed in alu­minum pan­els, the view­er be­comes part of the work and is in­vit­ed to ques­tion what he or she sees. In ad­di­tion to this key work from the Mo­MA col­lec­tion, with Horse Blin­ders (1968–69) and Hori­zon Home Sweet Home (1970) the ex­hi­bi­tion will pre­sent for the first time all three in­s­tal­la­tions that Rosen­quist cre­at­ed for the le­g­endary Castel­li Gallery.

This at­tempt to pull view­ers in­to the pic­ture, to in­volve them vi­su­al­ly and phys­i­cal­ly, emo­tio­n­al­ly and in­tel­lec­tu­al­ly, is al­so evi­dent in the three-part, monu­men­tal ensem­ble en­ti­tled The Swim­mer in the Econo-mist, which Rosen­quist cre­at­ed be­tween 1997 and 1998 for an ex­hi­bi­tion in Ber­lin. The twen­ty-sev­en-me­ter-long paint­ing com­bines Pi­cas­so’s Guer­ni­ca with other el­e­ments from the artist’s bi­og­ra­phy as well as col­lec­tive his­to­ry and iden­ti­ty in a di­s­ori­ent­ing tem­po­ral amalgam that de­picts rapid changes not on­ly in Ger­man iden­ti­ty.

The ex­hi­bi­tion fol­lows the cen­tral as­pect of “paint­ing as im­mer­sion,” as the artist him­self calls it, while of­fer­ing a wide-rang­ing overview of James Rosen­quist’s work. The col­lage-like paint­ings from the 1960s, which clear­ly re­flect Rosen­quist’s back­ground as a pain­ter of enor­mous bill­boards on Times Square, will be shown along with bi­o­graph­i­cal­ly mo­ti­vat­ed paint­ings from the 1970s and in­ter­pre­ta­tions of cos­mic pheno­m­e­na in his lat­er large-scale paint­ings.

James Rosen­quist him­self au­tho­rized the con­cept and the se­lec­tion of works for this ex­hi­bi­tion and as­sist­ed with the de­vel­op­ment pro­cess from the very be­gin­n­ing. Now this will be the first ma­jor mu­se­um ex­hi­bi­tion as an ho­mage to the artist, who died on March 31 of this year. Along with works from the mu­se­um’s own col­lec­tion and gener­ous loans from James Rosen­quist him­self, im­por­tant works from mu­se­ums such as Mo­MA and the Gug­gen­heim Mu­se­um in New York, the Cen­tre Ge­orges Pompi­dou in Paris, and the Mod­er­na Museet in Stock­holm will be shown.