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James Rosenquist

American, born 1933

Art © James Rosenquist/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

Nomad, 1963

Oil on canvas, plastic, and wood
90 1/8 x 140 x 25 inches (228.9 x 355.6 x 63.5 cm)
Gift of Seymour H. Knox, Jr., 1963

James Rosenquist was fascinated with the way we are constantly bombarded with images—through newspapers, magazines, signs, television, movies, and so on. Nomad reflects this barrage of images in its combination of many different types of objects: consumer products like Oxydol laundry detergent; things related to leisure time, such as ballet dancers, a picnic table, and a microphone; and items from everyday life—an electric light bulb and a plate of spaghetti with canned sauce. The largest item is an open gray wallet; the word "NEW" stands out not only because of its bright yellow background, but also because it is presented in relief. The NEW was a sign of the times, and the wallet might refer to the importance of money in a society characterized by mass production and avid consumerism.

The attached plastic umbrella, which creates the illusion that it is dripping paint onto the wood construction below, may refer to a couple of things. It might be meant to serve as a reminder of the fact that, in spite of the painting’s machine-like precision, Nomad was created by a real person. It could also refer to Jackson Pollock’s drip paintings of the previous decade, which influenced Rosenquist in the 1950s. However, the spontaneity and subjective feeling originally associated with that type of painting was later seen merely as a formula or mechanical process.

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