James Rosenquist: World’s Fair Mural, 1964
mural of the moon, a silver spoon, a car, flowers, peanuts, and an American Flag-patterned hat
James Rosenquist
World’s Fair Mural, 1964
Oil on masonite, 240 x 240 in.


The Worlds Fair Mural was one of ten paintings created for the 1964 World’s Fair in New York City. This painting is large because it was made to go on the outside of the New York State pavilion at the World’s Fair. James Rosenquist included overlapping sections from billboard advertisements in this mural. Each image has its own meaning and the mural has references to consumerism, the space race, technology, patriotism, and Rosenquist’s hometown of Atwater, Minnesota. Rosenquist wanted to show how they combine to create an energized picture of American life. He said, “I’m interested in contemporary vision-the flash of chrome, reflection, rapid association, quick flashes of light. Bing bang! Bing bang!”


James Rosenquist was born in Grand Forks, North Dakota, in 1933 and had an early interest in art. At fifteen he was awarded an art school scholarship and he later went to the University of Minnesota to study painting. He supported himself by painting advertisements on outdoor billboards and grain silos. In the 1950s he began to make paintings that combined images from advertisements with personal references and themes related to politics and American culture. He was one of a group of young artists in the 1960s that worked in a style called Pop Art. These artists gathered and used images found in popular culture-from advertising, television, cartoons, and the stuff of everyday life. He became interested in political and anti-war imagery after John F. Kennedy, the thirty-fifth U.S. president, was assassinated in 1963. Rosenquist was arrested as a Vietnam protester in 1972 in Washington, D.C. He continues to work with personal and political issues while creating energetic, large-scale paintings and prints.


Mural – a large picture, usually painted, attached directly to a wall.

Pop Art – a style of art noted for its visual references to popular culture.