Rosenquist Writ Large, by Himself
“True Colors: The Real Life of the Art World,” Anthony Haden-Guest wrote that the painter James Rosenquist possessed, most of the time, a “preternaturally healthy glow, like a hand-colored photograph.” You could say something similar about Mr. Rosenquist’s new memoir, which is an unexpected treat — it’s a ruddy and humble book, lighted from within by the author’s plainspoken, blue-collar charm.
Mr. Rosenquist came of age as a Pop artist in Manhattan during the 1960s, alongside Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. He knew everyone, and seemed to be everywhere. He shared a studio building by the Lower Manhattan waterfront with Ellsworth Kelly and Agnes Martin; Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg painted nearby. He drank in the Cedar Tavern with Willem de Kooning and LeRoi Jones.
Mr. Rosenquist describes strange nights in Hollywood accompanying the actor Dennis Hopper, who “prowled through the unlocked houses of aspiring actors and actresses.” Mr. Rosenquist gave a party for Abbie Hoffman’s future girlfriend during which people danced indoors between lighted road flares. The Warhol star Ultra Violet cavorted topless on Mr. Rosenquist’s front lawn in East Hampton one Sunday morning just as church was letting out. He was not all work and no play.