James Rosenquist
Painting as Immersion

Novem­ber 18, 2017 – March 4, 2018

Open­ing: Novem­ber 17, 2017, 7 p.m.

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.

Cu­ra­tors: Stephan Died­erich, Yil­maz Dziewior

The ex­hi­bi­tion is sup­port­ed by:


Guid­ed tours of the ex­hi­bi­tion take place on Sun­days at 3 p.m. and cost €2 per per­son plus ad­mis­sion. The num­ber of par­ti­ci­pants is limit­ed to twen­ty-five peo­ple. Tick­ets for the guid­ed tours can­not be re­served in ad­vance and can on­ly be purchased thir­ty min­utes be­fore the be­gin­n­ing of the tour at the in­for­ma­tion desk.


Dur­ing the ex­hi­bi­tion James Rosen­quist: Paint­ing as Im­mer­sion, the kunst:dialoge team will be on hand ev­ery Sun­day from 1 to 3 p.m. in the ex­hi­bi­tion to an­sw­er all kinds of ques­tions and dis­cuss the artist and his work. As al­ways, there are no stupid ques­tions!

Wheelchair ac­cess

Due to el­e­ments of the ex­hi­bi­tion ar­chi­tec­ture, the sec­tion fea­tur­ing the artist's pre­lim­i­nary studies is un­for­tu­nate­ly not wheelchair-ac­ces­si­ble. We apol­o­gize for any in­con­ve­nience.

Res­to­ra­tion of the work Horse Blin­ders

In­s­tal­la­tion view James Rosen­quist, Horse Blin­ders, Mu­se­um Lud­wig, Cologne, 1968-1969, Do­na­tion Lud­wig 1976,  © Es­tate of James Rosen­quist/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 201, Pho­to: © Rheinisch­es Bil­darchiv Köln, Cologne

James Rosen­quist’s monu­men­tal in­s­tal­la­tion Horse Blin­ders has been part of the mu­se­um’s col­lec­tion since 1976 and has un­der­gone ex­ten­sive res­to­ra­tion work since 2015. As part of the ex­hi­bi­tion, it will now once again be pre­sent­ed to the public. This large-scale work, which Rosen­quist cre­at­ed be­tween 1968 and 1969, con­sists of a to­tal of twen­ty-three el­e­ments: eleven large paint­ings and twelve alu­minum pan­els. Horse Blin­ders is one of on­ly three such in­s­tal­la­tions by the artist in mu­se­ums around the world and rep­re­sents one of the most im­pres­sive high­lights of the Pop Art col­lec­tion at the Mu­se­um Lud­wig. The res­to­ra­tion of the work was led by paint­ing conser­va­tors Kathrin Kessler and Is­a­bel Geb­hardt at the Mu­se­um Lud­wig, with re­search work tak­ing place in par­al­lel.

The res­to­ra­tion of Horse Blin­ders was made pos­si­ble by:
Me­dia Part­n­er:

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