Silver Skies

James Rosenquist
American (b. 1933)
Silver Skies, 1962
Oil on canvas

Moving to New York in the late 1950s, James Rosenquist found that his practical background as a billboard painter was a natural fit with the emerging Pop Art movement. Silver Skies represents a pivotal moment in the development of the artist’s signature style and the successful integration of his earlier professional experience into the realm of fine art. By combining and overlapping images drawn from varied commercial sources, and by selective, abrupt changes of scale, and unexpected juxtapositions, Rosenquist created a disconcerting dreamlike world. Like a sequence of roadside advertisements glimpsed from a moving car, the artist’s pictures hint at meaning or a story, but in the end they defy rational analysis. The Chrysler’s Silver Skies was a central feature of the groundbreaking New Realists exhibition held at the Sidney Janis Gallery in 1962, which effectively launched the Pop Art movement.