House of Fire II, 1982
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
James Rosenquist was one of several leading artists of the 1960s who rejected the notion that art’s images and methods should be elevated beyond the everyday. As a young artist, Rosenquist supported himself by painting commercial billboards. He soon adopted this technique to execute large-scale paintings of commercial objects in disquieting juxtapositions that commented on postwar America. Some of the imagery in House of Fire II, such as the bright lipsticks at the center, seems as if it might break through the surface of the canvas, like missiles targeting the viewer. The cumulative effect is one of menace that leaves the viewer unnerved.