Jerry Saltz’s quick estimation of James Rosenquist’s importance as a painter tries to capture the “double-edged finger-in-your-face and finger-in-the-pie irony” of American Pop art.
In a sensational stylistic turn-around and the equivalent of inventing fire Rosenquist went from his generic non-representational work and in one try made the seven-by-seven foot black and white photographically-based realist painting, Zone. Even today you can see how it was a new visual-painterly being on earth. A fragmented painted collage of what looks like a woman from advertising and a cut-up grid of some drips or liquid. Zone looks absolutely like advertising and at the same time it is not advertising. Thus it is neither a known idea of advertising or of painting. Zone becomes what Donald Judd referred to as a specific object – it is neither one thing or another, but something new. Whatever he did, Rosenquist work appeared brand new back then as it does now. He influenced several generations of artists who looked to popular culture and employed other-than-art techniques.