James Rosenquist

Painting for the American Negro

1962-1963
Rosenquist, unlike many other Pop artists, often directly addressed politics with his work. Here, he assembles everyday images to provoke questions about race and identity, provocations which today may appear blunt: the knob which reads “[D]ARKEN, ” “NORMAL” and “LIGHTEN,” for instance, overly simplifies the painful struggle for civil rights. Lending his support to the movement, Rosenquist hoped to focus his viewers’ attention, while suggesting – as with the opaque glasses in the centre – that our vision is often clouded. This work alludes to complex social and political questions without offering a possible, or possibly reductive, solution.
Title
Painting for the American Negro
Date
1962-1963
Medium
Painting
Materials
oil on canvas
Dimensions
203 x 533.4 cm overall; panels: 203 x 177.8 cm each
Nationality
American
Credit line
Purchased 1967
Accession number
15292.1-3