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Collection > James Rosenquist >

Push Button

1961

  • Medium

    Oil on canvas

  • Dimensions

    83 x 106 x 2 in. (210.82 x 269.24 x 5.08 cm)

  • Credit

    The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
    The Panza Collection

  • Accession number

    86.19

  • Object label

    ​Before his success as a fine artist, James Rosenquist made his living as a billboard painter, and Push Button’s smooth surface and bold imagery are clearly linked with commercial advertising. Rosenquist assumes that in our image-saturated, mass-media culture, where we speed by billboards on the highway, flip through glossy magazines, and watch quick visual montages in movies and on TV, viewers will be fully able to scan his painting’s fragmentary juxtapositions. Likewise, they will be adept at decoding the adman’s appeals to heterosexual desire, such as the suggestion of a hand brushing a leg, or the innuendo behind “push my button.” The black-and-white rendering associates the ankles, hand, and buttons, perhaps of a 1960s dashboard radio, with the black-and-white photography of print advertising. That, in turn, reinforces the sense these are not private images, but public messages, and the viewer is literate in their language.