James Rosenquist - The Light Bulb Shining
American, b.1933
The Light Bulb Shining, 1992
Lithograph with attached metal chain, 52.5 x 41.75 inches
Edition 47/50
Tyler Graphics Ltd.

Gift of Judy and J.D, Williamson II (BBA '67, MBA '68)

James Rosenquist numbers among the celebrated Pop artists, including Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Claes oldenburg, who emerged during the 1960s. Turning to the signs, symbols and images of popular culture, these artists both celebrated and critiqued a modern consumer and technological society.

James Rosenquist, an American Pop artist, has always been drawn to commercial imagery. As a young artist, Rosenquist began as a billboard painter in New York, notably high over Times Square. The large-scale, bold color, and simplified forms of outdoor advertising would have an enormous impact on his contributions to Pop art, in media including painting, sculpture, and printmaking. The Light Bulb Shining dates from the early 1990s and is related to another work by the artist in the Business School collection, Caught One Lost One for the Fast Student or Star Catcher (1989). Although created later in his career, this work continues Rosenquist's fascination with graphically strong images. The representational forms are everyday objects from a throwaway culture: bundled pencils, spikes and an aluminum can, whose sharpened and hard forms carry an ominous feel. They float on an abstract ground of dense and brightly colored polka dots, which in keeping with Rosenquist's imagery of this period refer to the starry heavens and a magical spacescape. This combination of the natural and the manufactured is also caught in the title of the print, the "bulb" of which is ironically and subtly found in the darkened shape of the open tab of the "pop-top" can. If you pull the metal chain, does the light go on or off?