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James Rosenquist, "F-111," 1964-65

​James Rosenquist said about his 1964 painting, F111, "a multiplicity of ideas caused its existence." To learn more about what artists have to say, take our online course, Modern and Contemporary Art, 1945-1989. Created by The Museum of Modern Art.

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Video transcript

Voiceover: I painted the F-111 in 1964. F-111 was the latest American Fighter Bomber in the planning stage. Its mission seemed obsolete before it was finished. It seemed the prime [forest] of this war machine was to economically keep people employed in Texas and Long Island. At the time, I thought people involved in it's making were headed for something but I didn't know what. By doing this, they could achieved two and a half children, three and a half cars, and a house in the suburbs. In the painting I incorporated orange spaghetti, cake, light bulbs, flowers and many other things. It felt to me like a plane flying through the flack of an economy. The little girl was the pilot under a hair dryer. The swimmer gulping air was like searching for air during an atomic holocaust. I had heard that the Chinese had originally invented income taxes as a donation to static community. Now that taxes were in demand, I thought if I sold this painting the joke would be that the buyer had already bought a real F-111 with his taxes. I was concerned with peripheral vision. I wanted to specify that whenever one looked at would exist because of the peripheral vision that extends from the corner of the eye. Thus one would question, one's own self-consciousness. In the 1960s the painting was critically taken as an anti-work protest but there were a multiplicity of ideas that caused its existence.