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James Rosenquist, SPOKES, 1997. Courtesy of Gallery Art.

James Rosenquist: Tripartite Series

Drawn to the teachings of the Zen philosopher Sengai Gibon, James Rosenquist believed that the world could be entirely represented with three simple shapes: the circle, the triangle, and the square. As Zen teaching goes, the circle represents infinite and the basis of life itself, the triangle symbolizes the beginning of all forms, and the square—the triangle doubled—manifests the multiplicity of forms that comprise the entire multidimensional universe. Rosenquist’s “Tripartite Series” of etchings and lithographs cheekily reappropriates this Zen trifecta with a distinctly American spin, engaging with the artist’s long-time themes of technology, commercialism, and American culture. In Rosenquist’s “Tripartite” prints, circles bloom into spoked wheels and warp into cosmic bodies, triangles become Egyptian pyramids or overlap to form the Star of David, and squares transform into cookie-cutter houses fit for the American dream. Created during the 1970s at the peak of the artist’s immersion in printmaking, Rosenquist’s “Tripartite Series” spans dozens of prints, each encoded with distinct references of American life.

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