Trained as a billboard painter, Rosenquist began creating large-scale, lavishly composed works as a Pop artist in the 1960s. House of Fire exudes the dynamism and sensuous polish that have characterized his work since that period. In this allegorical triptych, prosaic objects become strangely treacherous: a grocery bag is mysteriously suspended in air, a supernaturally radiant bucket of molten steel descends through a window, and fiery lipsticks align like a battery of guns. The allusions to violence, sex, and consumerism recall earlier works such as the artist's monumental F-111 of 1965, which mixes imagery of a U.S. Air Force fighter-bomber with that of a child and a mass of spaghetti, producing a heightened sense of seduction and danger.
[Castelli Feigen Corcoran, New York, 1981–82; sold to MMA]
New York. Castelli–Feigen–Corcoran. "James Rosenquist," March 3–April 17, 1982.
Museum of Art, Fort Lauderdale. "New Narrative Painting: Selections from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York," February 9–26, 1984, no. 21.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Selection One," February 1–April 30, 1985, no catalogue.
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. "James Rosenquist: A Retrospective," May 12–August 17, 2003, no. 97.
New York. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. "James Rosenquist: A Retrospective," October 2, 2003–January 4, 2004, no. 97.
John Russell. "Art: A Good Way to Look at French Old Masters." New York Times (March 26, 1982), p. C24.
Kathleen Howard, ed. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide. New York, 1983, p. 425, no. 32, ill. (color).
Grace Glueck. "The Met Makes Room for the 20th Century." New York Times (September 18, 1983), p. H30.
Kay Larson. "The Met Goes Modern: Bill Lieberman's Brave New Wing." New York Magazine 19 (December 15, 1986), p. 46, ill. p. 45 (color).
Lisa Mintz Messinger in20th Century Art: Selections from the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Vol. 2, Painting: 1945-1985. New York, 1986, pp. 56–57, ill. (color, overall and detail).
William S. Lieberman in20th Century Art: Selections from the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Vol. 2, Painting: 1945–1985. New York, 1986, p. 7.
Kathleen Howard, ed. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide. 2nd ed. (1st ed., 1983). New York, 1994, pp. 446–47, no. 33, ill. (color).
The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide. New York, 2012, pp. 430–31, ill. (color).
Sarah Lyall. "Is There a Perp in the Painting?" New York Times (April 27, 2016), p. C1.