Throughout his career, the work of James Rosenquist—one of the leaders of Pop Art—has registered his fascination with advanced technology and scientific phenomena, especially in relation to space and the cosmos. The heady days of early American space exploration are the subject of Flamingo Capsule (1970) which commemorates the three astronauts who died in a flash fire onboard Apollo 1 during a training session in 1967.
In the artist's description, the composition suggests "fire in a contained space" and "objects floating around in the capsule." Set against a field of red and yellow are the crumpled foil of a uniform emblazoned with the American flag.
A twisted and distorted food bag and the arc of a balloon floating through the air can also be seen in the painting. However, the monumental scale of the work and the juxtaposition and enlargement of the objects to billboard-size proportions results in an enigmatic quality typical of much of Rosenquist's work.
The work comprises four canvas panels and two aluminized Mylar panels—a material used in the aerospace industry—attached to either end; these end panels reflect the painted surface, extending the whirling composition beyond the confines of the painting.
Flamingo Capsule, 1970
Oil on canvas and aluminized Mylar
290 x 701 x 98,5 cm
Guggenheim Bilbao Museoa
Flamingo Capsule by James RosenquistGuggenheim Bilbao
An exhibition of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao