The Large and Small of It

From dirt specks to sprawling canvases, these shows clog the eyes

The Meteor Hits Picasso's Bed was inspired by Rosenquist's childhood recollection of a neighbor who was knocked out by a meteor that crashed into her bedroom. The bed in the painting is suggested by charred wooden sticks arranged in the lower front of the composition. Splayed across it is one of Picasso's cubist nudes surrounded by a tangle of prickly cacti the diameter of toilet lids. The top of the picture bursts with an abstract field of what appears to be crinkled pink plastic wrap that refracts the desert sun's rays. The piece is playful and visually chaotic, evoking a Wile E. Coyote-colliding-with-modern-art-history sensibility.

A Texas-size piece — The Xenophobic Movie Director or Our Foreign Policy — making its stateside debut, is a compelling statement that indicates Rosenquist remains at the top of his game when it comes to taking a critical stab at our leaders. The center of the piece features what might be Dubya's legs mid-golf-swing. A buzzing white filament golf club attached to an oversize light bulb suggests the prez favors his nine iron. The bulb is covered in Arabic text. To the far left is a tree stump draped in the Stars and Stripes and crowned by the skull of a longhorn steer. The artist seems to be noting that when it comes to understanding Islamic culture, the lights might be on in Washington, but no one is home.

For those who haven't experienced Rosenquist's work up close and personal, these paintings, intimately packed into a cozy space, offer a rare view.

James Rosenquist's The Stars and Stripes at the Speed of Light at Miami Art Museum
James Rosenquist's The Stars and Stripes at the Speed of Light at Miami Art Museum


"Chandelier Mistaken for God": Through May 13 and "James Rosenquist: Traveling at the Speed of Light": Through July 2
Bernice Steinbaum Gallery, 3550 N Miami Ave, Miami; 305-573-2700
Miami Art Museum, 101 W Flagler St, Miami; 305-375-3000

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