Title of Artwork: “Silo”
Artwork by James Rosenquist
Year Created 1963 – 1964
Summary of Silo
The original inspiration for this graphic was the “T-zone” (for “taste zone”) featured in Camel cigarette commercials. In its original form, which was depicted on the exhibition poster, it was included in Rosenquist’s “Candidate” exhibition at the Green Gallery in January–February 1964. At the time, the image was mostly comprised of a large female head, full face, with a cigarette in one hand, set on a red background.
She smiled brightly, her lips parted in an attractive shape. A 25-watt light bulb hung from the top of the T-shaped enclosure in front of the artwork, illuminating the row of shining teeth, while the lower portion of the enclosure encased a chair with a pan of water underneath it containing five artificial flowers painted in Day-Glo colours.
In reference to this book, Rosenquist said that modern advertising, particularly in the United States, amounts to a constant barrage of visuals that amounts to a form of brainwashing. He considered letting visitors sit in the chair as part of the display; after all, it did look like a brainwashing seat.
On January 5, 1974, he documented his progress to date on the project that would eventually become Silo. Since it premiered in the fall of 1964 at the Dwan Gallery in Los Angeles, we may safely assume that its final form was established by midsummer of that year. Above the chin, the entire canvas was repainted in blue, while the central area was reworked to feature a dish rack, a woman’s hand ripping off a piece of wax paper, and a blurry picture of trees and leaves. A mini blackboard was also placed by him to this spot.
A more extensive portion of the same advertisement depicting a dish rack had been used by him in an earlier 1964 painting titled “Dishes,” which is now part of the collection of Virginia Wright, Seattle. As a result of these changes, the woman’s mouth, throat, and nasal passages are no longer the site of savouring cigarette smoke, but rather the site of digestion and what seems like fermentation, hence the new label, “Silo.” During the overpainting process, he intended to only use the lowest zone, but he eventually realised that the entire region was required.