EntertainmentArts & CelebritiesMonumental James Rosenquist Paintings Join Works By Alex Katz,...

Monumental James Rosenquist Paintings Join Works By Alex Katz, Robert Mapplethorpe, Robert Motherwell, At Michelin-Starred Chef Daniel Boulud’s Namesake DANIEL


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Sipping champagne and noshing on perfect one-bite salmon tarts crowned with roe, we gaze from a distance to admire what looks like shiny, metallic ribbon, writhing alongside distorted, maybe-melting, possibly-exploding, clock faces dominating the right and center of a monumental canvas. A metallic clock spins, obscuring the numerals on the face and casting a shadow on the otherwise bare ombré far left canvas.

As we step back, we witness the reflective surface deliquesce into a nebulous space between abstraction and figuration to decipher the painterly brushstrokes.

For his Speed of Light series, James Rosenquist drew on Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity to visually depict how someone traveling in space, at or close to the speed of light, would experience time and distance differently from a terrestrial observer.

Rosenquist’s Speed of Light Illustrated (2008), an oil on canvas, with painted and motorized mirror, extends 12-feet-wide and seven-feet-high, dominating a wall in the dining room of Michelin-starred Chef Daniel Boulud’s flagship New York restaurant, DANIEL on the Upper East Side. The mighty mind-bending masterwork is among 10 paintings and works on paper executed between 1979 and 2008 by Rosenquist, who differentiated from his Pop Art peers Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein by incorporating elements of Surrealism using fragments of advertisements and cultural imagery.

This mesmerizing installation is curated by art advisor Janis Gardner Cecil, president of JGC Fine Art, in collaboration with the Estate of James Rosenquist and Kasmin Gallery, along with loans from “generous private collectors”. In June 2021, Kasmin announced U.S. representation of the renowned post-war painter’s estate. Over six decades, Rosenquist (1933–2017) worked fluidly across painting, sculpture, drawing, collage, and printmaking, embracing the ethos of 1960 in a way that resonates with today’s contemporary audiences.

“Janice is on a mission to make sure that we have the greatest American artists at this moment now,” Boulud told a small group on Tuesday toasting the new installation.

It was a delight to examine the intricate large-scale paintings, watching the canvases oscillate as we shifted between close and distant views, while enjoying Boulud’s exquisite passed canapé. It’s culinary mastery elegantly mingling with its fine art equivalent.

“I thought of the clocks actually being thrown like balls from one side and caught on (the other) side of the room,” said Gardner Cecil. “That’s how it looked to me when I saw the pictures, and then when you sit back here you can see a three-dimensional vortex sucking in the picture and it really pulls the clock, and therefore time, backwards.”

In conjunction with the 2021 interior renovation of DANIEL, Boulud collaborated with Gardner Cecil to launch bi-annual exhibitions that complement the neoclassical dining room, the cozy Upper Lounge, and the private Bellecour Room. The ambitious project debuted with an exhibition of large-scale landscape paintings by Alex Katz and photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe, along with works on paper by Robert Motherwell on loan from the Dedalus Foundation and Kasmin Gallery. The first iteration, which includes some of Motherwell’s America-LaFrance Variations, remains on view in the Bellecour Room.

Boulud said he sparked a friendship with Rosenquist in 1993 when he hosted an event “for all the greatest living artists in New York at Restaurant DANIEL.”

“”I know Jim would be honored to have this group of work hanging in his friend Daniel’s extraordinary restaurant. As two energetic, very creative people, they seemed to understand each other well, and they certainly had a lot of fun together,” said the artist’s widow, Mimi Thompson Rosenquist.



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