Robert Rauschenberg, 1925-2008, American
from an exhibition at the MOMA, NY in 2017: Rauschenberg: Among Friends
MOMA, NY reviewed the art of Robert Rauschenberg in 2017 with a representative sample of the artist’s large oeuvre.
The focus was on the artist’s close co-operation with colleagues and friends, arts communities inside and outside the United States.
A Texan by birth, Rauschenberg enlisted in the navy in 1944 when he was 19 or 20. He was not sent into a foreign theater of war. He worked at a Marine Corps. rehabilitation center before school in the arts in the United States and at the Académie Julian in Paris.
Postcard, Self-portrait, Black Mountain (North Carolina, where the artist was at art school),
1952, silver gelatin print. Photo from the website of the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation
He was in New York first by 1949. There he met Jasper Johns (American born 1930) in 1954. Johns is the most celebrated of his colleagues and undoubtedly the closest as they began their careers.
The two of them put paid to the hegemony of the Abstract Expressionists who had rules about what you could and could not represent.
A regimen severe enough to have banished from New York the admired Philip Guston (1913-1980, American born Canada) when he decided to return to realism.
Paying no heed to the strictures of Abstract Expressionism, both Johns and Rauschenberg took to the philosophy of Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968, American born France)
and set their own minds and imaginations as the limit of what they could create. They kept counsel with each other’s ideas until 1961 and then went their separate ways.
Bottle Rack, 1960 (third version after the original of 1914 was lost), galvanized iron.
Marcel Duchamp, 1887-1968, American born France.
Robert Rauschenberg Foundation.
The museum noted that Rauschenberg bought this for $3 dollars when he saw it in an exhibition called Art and the Found Object in which his own work was also exhibited.
Marcel Duchamp inscribed the rack at Rauschenberg’s request; and the artist kept this in a place of treasured objects in his studio for the rest of his life.
The importance of Rauschenberg’s work and that of Jasper Johns is to have expanded the means, motifs, and intent of artistic expression.
Jasper Johns was about the philosophical question of what makes something art.
Rauschenberg was as interested as is Johns in the status of ordinary objects when an artist uses them.
Their stances towards this question and their attempts to evolve an answer are, however, different.
Jasper Johns, turning inwards, has incessantly worried away at this question by repeating again and again his treatment of a small group of objects from different angles or using different media.
Sue, c. 1950, exposed blueprint paper.
Susan Weil , American born 1930, and Robert Rauschenberg, 1925-2008, American. Private collection loaned to MOMA, NY in 2017
Rauschenberg turned himself to the world. He said that he wanted to inhabit the space between art and life.
He made art with as many techniques as he could master on a vast array of subjects.
Rauschenberg said: I think a painting is more like the real world if it is made out of the real world.
Untitled (Double Rauschenberg), c. 1950, exposed blueprint paper.
Susan Weil , American born 1930, and Robert Rauschenberg, 1925-2008, American. Loaned by the Cy Twombly Foundation to MOMA, NY in 2017
This involved him, in the 1960s and ’70s, in the fraught politics of the time as the United States engaged in war in the Far East.
In the summer of 1970, joining a protest movement in the arts against the Vietnam War, Rauschenberg withdrew from the U.S. Pavilion at the Venice Biennale.
His political concerns brought him eventually to a personal commitment to show how art can create the conditions for peace internationally.
These philosophical differences between Johns and Rauschenberg have left us two large legacies whose characteristics differ.
Rauschenberg’s, however, is almost beyond description for the variety of his work.
Jasper Johns, who does not discuss his work, ascribes no meaning to his work while expecting our continued interest and attention.
This seems to me a form of nihilism; intellectual game-playing without appeal to any other part of us.
I am, though, in the world and it is Rauschenberg’s world:
multifarious, multidimensional, multi everything and a place for our thoughtful interaction and imaginative expression.
Much of Rauschenberg‘s art is sensual.
Canyon and detail, 1959, oil, pencil, paper, photograph, fabric, wood, canvas, buttons, mirror, taxidermied eagle, cardboard, pillow, paint tube, and other materials.
Robert Rauschenberg,1925-2008, American. MOMA, NY
The bald eagle was a gift from the artist Sari Dienes (1898-1982, American) who found it in a pile of discarded stuff in a building in New York. The photograph is of Rauschenberg’s son, Christopher.
A depiction of the homeoerotic desire in the myth of Zeus and the boy Ganymede whom he kidnapped and lifted to his Olympian abode is one of the sources of this combine also.
A fabulous painting, sensuous and sober, of the acceptance by an American artist of his destiny and of himself as he was.
Rauschenberg’s charm amounting to charisma has often been noted.
But it is the artist’s sensuality which streams out of photographs and his work; and the enthusiastic handling of his paint and of the many substances he used.
Merce Cunningham‘s (1919-2009, American choreographer) dancers spoke of the pleasure they had feeling and dancing their way through and around one of Rauschenberg’s dance sets.
Rauschenberg met and travelled with Cy Twombly (1938-2011, American) in the early 1950’s.
He also had a 10-year co-operative relationship with Merce Cunningham and John Cage (1912-1992, American composer) both of whom he met when he went to study under Josef Albers (1888-1976, German artist and educator) at Black Mountain College in North Carolina.
Rauschenberg’s generosity was comprehensive. In 1966, he co-founded an organization to promote exchanges between artists and engineers.
Mud Muse, 1968-71, bentonite mixed with water in aluminum and glass vat with sound-activated compressed-air system and control console.
Loaned to MOMA in 2017 by the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation.
This work comprises a feedback loop which the artist created with aerospace engineers from Teledyne. The sounds seem primordial. The technology is modern.
The museum noted that the basin of this vat is filled with bentonite normally used when drilling natural gas and oil wells. There are sound-activated pneumatic tubes installed in its base which pump air through the mud in response to a tape recording of the sounds of the bubbling clay.
Four years later he founded Change, a nonprofit organization to assist artists-in-need with emergency expenses.
He was incidentally generous, also.
The Moderna Museet in Stockholm reports an incident in which a woman who did not know the artist dismissed a painting in his presence as something that a boxer she named could have done. The artist immediately moved to the painting and wrote that the creation was that of the boxer.
Rauschenberg accommodated many kinds of materials other than paint in his work:
earth substances, ambient and generated sound, found objects and manufactured items.
He transferred images onto reflective materials such as steel and aluminium.
He also used biodegradable and vegetal dyes in the many textile-based designs he made.
The artist spoke of the generosity of objects which he found and incorporated into his work.
Gold and silver leaf on fabric, newspaper, paint, wood, glue and nails on wood in a wood and glass frame, 1953.
Robert Rauschenberg Foundation on loan to MOMA, NY in 2017
The artist’s techniques were many:
Photography was an early and abiding interest.
He painted, sculpted, used collage and also lithography, metalworking, silkscreening, and digital printing. He designed sets.
Rauschenberg’s painting techniques included the peremptory brushwork and dripping, dribbling, scraping, splashing and the gorgeous colours of the Abstract Expressionists.
Black and white paintings
Rauschenberg’s white canvases and some of his black canvases are covered with paint but with no other mark.
White Painting, 1958, repainted 1968, seven panels painted with Latex house paint, roller and brush.
Robert Rauschenberg Foundation loan to MOMA, NY in 2017
Untitled, enamel paint and and paper on canvas, 1951. 4 parts.
Robert Rauschenberg. Whitney Museum of American Art on loan to MOMA, NY in 2017.
This is one of six black paintings which the artist reworked to a size larger than the original to match sizes being produced by the Abstract Expressionists.
Untitled, 1952/53, oil and newspaper on canvas affixed to screen door.
Robert Rauschenberg. Private collection loaned to MOMA, NY in 2017
Detail of Untitled (Black Painting with Asheville Citizen), c. 1952, asphaltum and newspaper on oil and metallic paint on canvas.
Robert Rauschenberg. Two panels. MOMA, NY
The museum notes that beneath the surface of asphaltum are a seated man and the bust of a woman. The original appears to be work done by the artist and Susan Weil and overpainted by Rauschenberg. Rauschenberg was not sentimental about old work because he recognized that he was in a process of education.
A third layer is provided by people circulating in the gallery and looking at this work.
Rauschenberg’s White Paintings, black too, which he began in 1951 were much reproduced by other painters including Cy Twombly and Brice Marden (American born 1938).
And by Ad Rheinhardt who reduced his own black painting in 1963 to a death knell for the end of the painted tradition. Something belied by Rauschenberg’s achievement after that date.
Ultimate Painting, 1963, oil on canvas.
Ad Rheinhardt, 1913-1967, American. Collection of Virginia Dwan on exhibition in 2016 at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Perhaps the liveliness and popularity of the 170 combines he made in 11 years – the artist’s name for his combination of sculpture, painting , collage and found objects – come from the artist’s belief in the agency of non-organic objects. Not symbolic agency necessarily but agency because each has its history of human interaction.
Rauschenberg combined paint with collage and found and manufactured items and structures.
After the eclecticism, the interiority, the gate-keeping and score-keeping of the Abstract Expressionists, Rauschenberg blew open the artistic field for good and also, of course, for derivative and imitative.
The art historian Leo Steinberg said, “What he invented above all was…a pictorial surface that let the world in again.”
Charlene and detail, 1954, mixed media.
Robert Rauschenberg,1925-2008, American. Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam on loan in 2017 to MOMA.
The artist wanted the world in his paintings: he included a number of real objects, some of them possessions like the T-shirt in this painting.
This tableau is the largest of the artist’s works in his ‘Red Painting’ series and is considered the first of his combines.
Performance was also a part of the artist’s repertoire.
Rauschenberg painted the painting below on stage, its back to the audience, and attached contact microphones to amplify the sound of his brushstrokes.
He declared the painting done when the alarm clock rang. The artist wrapped the painting and left the theater. The painting was put on display the next day in a commercial gallery.
First Time Painting,1961, oil, paper, fabric, sailcloth, plastic exhaust cap, alarm clock, sheet metal, adhesive tape, metal springs, wire, and string on canvas.
Homage to David Tudor (1926-1996), American composer closely associated with John Cage and Merce Cunningham
was a collective event that was staged by Robert Rauschenberg and the artists Niki de Saint Phalle, Jasper Johns, and Jean Tinguely at the American Embassy in Paris in June, 1961.
Jasper Johns signaled the program’s intermission by carrying his painting Entr’acte onto the stage.
15 Entr’acte (Fifteen-minute intermission), 1961.
Jasper Johns, American born 1930. Music Ludwig, Cologne on loan to MOMA, NY in 2017
Untitled (Night Blooming), 1951, oil on canvas with embedded gravel, asphaltum and lead paint.
Robert Rauschenberg, 1925-2008, American. Loaned to MOMA in 2017 by his foundation
He treated some of them minimally and worked with others extensively.
Satellite, 1955, oil, fabric, paper and wood on canvas with taxidermic pheasant.
Robert Rauschenberg,1925-2008, American. Whitney Museum of American Art
The artist acknowledged his antecedents to include the god Apollo:
Gift for Apollo and detail, 1959, oil fragments of a pair of men’s pants, necktie, wood, fabric, newspaper, printed paper, and printed reproductions on wood with metal bucket, metal chain, doorknob, L-brackets, metal washer, nail, cement and rubber wheels with metal spokes.
Robert Rauschenberg,1925-2008, American. The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles on loan to MOMA, NY in 2017.
The museum noted that the god’s chariot has been reimagined and that the artist liked to add wheels to his combines in order to move them around.
Rauschenberg worked in companionship with many artists: sharing studios when he was young, and ideas, work techniques. He worked with choreographers and dancers.
Among artists who shared with him some portion of their work lives was Susan Weil, (American born 1930) whom he married and with whom he had a son before he came to assume fully his homosexuality. Their mutual care and work encouragement continued throughout Rauschenberg’s life.
Their son runs the Rauschenberg Foundation.
Female Figure, c. 1950, exposed blueprint paper.
Susan Weil , American born 1930, and Robert Rauschenberg, 1925-2008, American. Robert Rauschenberg Foundation
Shooting Painting American Embassy and detail, 1961, paint, plaster, wood, plastic bags, shoe, twine, metal seat, axe, metal can, toy gun, wire mesh, shot pellets, and other obects on wood.
Niki de Saint-Phalle, 1930-2002, French. MOMA, NY
Friend and colleague of Rauschenberg.
Mother of God and detail, c. 1950, cut and torn roadmaps with newspaper, oil, enamel, and metallic paint on Masonite.
Robert Rauschenberg,1925-2008, American. San Francisco Museum on loan to MOMA, NY in 2017
The museum noted that the artist made a number of ‘elemental’ paintings to showcase a particular material: paper, gold, dirt, clay.
In order to ‘test the market’, the artist also made paintings of toilet paper for each painting he made of precious metal. These last have not survived.
Gold Leaf on fabric, and glue on composition board in a wood and glass frame, 1953.
Robert Rauschenberg, 1925-2008, American.
Short Circuit and detail, mixed media, 1955.
This was created by Robert Rauschenberg with Jasper Johns (American, born 1930), Susan Weil (American, born 1930), Elaine Sturtevant (1924-2014, American). It includes a program from an early John Cage concert given by him by David Tudor; and an autograph of Judy Garland.
The short circuit of the title refers to an invitation by Rauschenberg to friends to contribute works to this piece once he discovered that the gallery for whom this piece was made was not accepting individual works from his co-artists.
Susan Weil and Jasper Johns were, in the end, the only two to contribute their own drawings to this piece and these were incorporated by Rauschenberg within the shallow cabinets (Johns’ flag later stolen).
Rauschenberg worked for 10 creative years with the choreographer, Merce Cunningham and the composer John Cage.
For them and for others, Rauschenberg created stage design, lighting and costumes.
Minutiae and detail, 1954, oil, paper, fabric, newspaper, wood, paint sample colour chart, graphite, metal, plastic, with hanging mirror and wooden supports.
Jasper Johns, American born 1930 with Robert Rauschenberg. Private collection in Switzerland on loan to MOMA, NY in 2017.
This was built by the two artists at the request of Merce Cunningham who wanted something that his dancers could use in a dance. When the curtain went up, the mirror would be spinning and flashing.
Screenshots of Travelogue, a 1977 ballet: choreography by Merce Cunningham, score by John Cage to include bird sounds and dialed telephone numbers. The set design and costumes were by Robert Rauschenberg.
The set consisted of a row of chairs, bicycle wheels and hanging banners. During the dance, various items were appended to the dancer’s leotards. These included tin cans whose sound accompanied each move.
Scanning and detail, 1963, oil and silkscreen ink print on canvas includes images of members of Merce Cunningham’s dance group rehearsing Aeon. The paw marks on the left are those of Rauchenberg’s pet kinkajou whose name was Sweetie.
Robert Rauschenberg,1925-2008, American. Private loan to MOMA, NY in 2017
Bed and detail, 1955, oil, pencil, toothpaste and red fingernail polish on pillow quilt; and bedsheet mounted on wood supports.
Robert Rauschenberg,1925-2008, American. MOMA, NY.
The artist made this when he did not have the money for a canvas. He used a quilt given him by the artist Dorothea Rockburne (American born Canada, 1932).
Cy Twombly, who often worked with Rauschenberg at this time in his NY studio, is thought to have added the pencil marks on the pillow.
Untitled Drawing, 1954, gouache, wax crayon and coloured pencil on paper.
Cy Twombly, 1928-2011, American. MOMA, NY
The museum juxtaposed this drawing by Cy Twombly.
Rebus,1955, oil, synthetic polymer paint, pencil, crayon, pastel, paper paint chips, printed and painted paper, newspaper, journal, poster clippings, drawing by Cy Twombly, and fabric on canvas, mounted and stapled to fabric. Three panels.
Robert Rauschenberg,1925-2008, American. MOMA, NY
The artist incorporated in this work a number of things which he found in a period of a few days in his neighbourhood. Colour discipline is provided a strip mid-painting of 117 commercial paint samples. A painting by Cy Twombly is included in the lower panel.
The title of the painting is the name of a game in which words and pictures can be used interchangeably. The museum notes that the artist believed the name to be an integral element of a work.
Monogram and detail, 1955-59, oil, paper, printed reproductions, metals, wood, rubber shoe heel and tennis ball on two conjoined canvases with oil, an Angora taxidermied goat with brass plaque and rubber tire on wood platform mounted on four casters.
Robert Rauschenberg,1925-2008, American. Moderna Museet, Stockholm loaned to MOMA, NY in 2017.
It was four years of experimentation for the artist before he decided, with the advice of Jasper Johns, to let him just stand there on his canvas with the tire around his middle. The artist was reminded of the interweaving of the letters of a monogram with this goat and his tire.
There are many interpretations of this work. I like that it juxtaposes our natural and fabricated worlds, our very rich milieu. I don’t like that this goat is constrained. But then I like angora wool.
Untitled, 1959, tin can, pocket watch, and chain.
Robert Rauschenberg. Private loan in 2017 to MOMA, NY
Painting with Grey Wing and detail, 1959, oil, printed reproductions, unpainted paint-by-number board, typed print on paper, photographs, fabric, stuffed bird wing, and dime on canvas.
Robert Rauschenberg,1925-2008, American. The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles loan to MOMA, NY in 2017
A depiction of the homeoerotic desire in the myth of Zeus and the boy Ganymede whom he kidnapped and lifted to his Olympian abode.
Black Market and detail, 1961, oil, watercolour, pencil, paper, fabric, newspaper, printed paper, printed reproductions, wood, metal, tin, street sign, license plate, four metal clipboards on canvas, with rope, chain and metal suitcase containing rubber stamp, inkpad and typed instructions regarding objects to be given and taken by viewers.
Robert Rauschenberg. Loaned to MOMA, NY by Museum Ludwig, Cologne in 2017
Exhibited first in Amsterdam in 1961, Rauschenberg placed objects in the metal suitcase and had an invitation to visitors to take an object and replace it with something of their own and place a drawing of their contribution on one of the clipboards.
He withdrew the invitation when it was found that people were stealing the objects in the box and contributing nothing.
Ace, 1962, oil, paper, paint can label, umbrella, doorknob, wood, fabric, nails, and metal on canvas.
Robert Rauschenberg. Albright Knox Art Gallery on loan to MOMA, NY in 2017.
Ace was the artist’s name for the dancer and choreographer, Steve Paxton, American born 1939.
Pilgrim, 1960, oil, graphite, paper, printed paper, and fabric on canvas, with painted wooden chair.
Robert Rauschenberg. Loaned by a private collector to MOMA, NY in 2017
The museum notes that Merce Cunningham carried a chair on his back in his Antic Meet of 1958 and that may be a source of this combine. Jasper Johns has also real chairs in his work.
This chair was used to scrape paint down the painting. In his ever generosity, the artist is inviting you to sit with this work.
Cove, 1963, oil and silkscreen-ink print on canvas.
Loaned by Jasper Johns to MOMA, NY in 2017
In 1962, Andy Warhol taught Richard Rauschenberg how to use silkscreen. This coincided with a decision of Rauschenberg’s to incorporate ‘current world-wide images’ in a painting also containing ready-mades.
Rauschenberg created an inventory of more than 150 screens, combining and recombining their images and adding paint. For this he won the Venice Biennal in 1964.
The artist called a friend in New York to destroy his screens in order to avoid the temptation to repeat himself in the wake of enormous attention and pressure following his acceptance of the 1964 Venice Biennial prize.
Let us Now Praise Famous Men (Rauschenberg Family) and detail, 1962, silkscreen-ink print on canvas.
Andy Warhol, 1928-1987, American. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC on loan in 2017 to MOMA, NY
The museum noted that Andy Warhol asked Rauschenberg if he could make a portrait of him. This is the result made from one of several phtographs dating from the 1920s and 30s of members of Rauschenberg’s family in Port Arthur, Texas.
Warhol’s title comes from a celebrated 1941 book of photos of the Depression in the south of the US of James Agee and Walker Evans. Rauschenberg was not famous in 1968 and the title is taken as expressing Warhol’s regard for him.
Persimmon and detail, 1964, oil and silkscreen-ink print on canvas.
Robert Rauschenberg. Private collection on loan to MOMA, NY in 2017.
Tracer and detail, oil and silkscreen-ink print on canvas, 1963.
Robert Rauschenberg. The Milton-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri on loan to MOMA, NY in 2017
Retroactive I and detail, 1964, oil and silkscreen-ink on canvas.
Robert Rauschenberg. Wadsworth Athenaum Museum of Art in Hartford, Connecticut on loan to MOMA, NY in 2017
The artist made 7 canvases based on this image of President Kennedy during a presidential election debate with Richard Nixon.
He had a great admiration for John F. Kennedy’s deportment and actions in office.
Rauschenberg first left New York in 1962 to get away from the pressure. He went to Treasure Island near St. Petersburg, Florida and kept his New York studio.
From 1968 and for 38 years until his death, Robert Rauschenberg lived on the island of Captiva off the west coast of Florida. There he established workshops with a print center at its center. He continued to work with found materials.
With his customary generosity, Rauschenberg invited others to join him on the island to make work. In the first year, five did that including Susan Weil and Brice Marden.
Sor Aqua (Venetian) and detail, 1973, wood and metal suspended with rope over water-filled bathtub with glass jug.
Robert Rauschenberg. The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston on loan to MOMA in 2017.
The artist returned to Venice in 1973. This work is one of several he made to recall, with the bathtub, the canals; and with the rusting metal above the bathtub, the deteriorated, aging surfaces of Venice.
Glacier (Hoarfrost), 1974, solvent transfer on satin and chiffon with pillow.
Robert Rauschenberg. Loaned by the Menil Collection, Houston to MOMA, NY in 2017
Polar Glut, 1987, riveted metal street signs. Promised gift to MOMA, NY.
Throughout his life, Rauschenberg travelled for his work, often including in his work materials he found. Often he worked with local artists.
Vow (Jammer), 1976, sewn fabric and rattan pole.
Robert Rauschenberg, 1925-2008. Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY
The artist used Indian silk or satin in a series of works he made after his 1975 residency in Ahmedabad, India.
They hang and move like sails or flags.
He established and funded the Rauschenberg Overseas Cultural Interchange (ROCI, 1984-1991) not long after a visit to China in 1982 at the end of the Cultural Revolution to work with artisans at the Xuan paper mill.
He wanted to encourage cross-cultural dialogue and he wanted to turn his belief in human rights into something real in the real world.
This was his statement when he initiated this interchange:
“I feel strong in my beliefs, based on my varied and widely traveled collaborations, that a one-to-one contact through art contains potent peaceful powers and is the most non-elitist way to share exotic and common information, seducing us into creative mutual understandings for the benefit of all.”
Between 1985 and 1991 the artist visited 10 countries with. With some of them the United States had strained relationships.
This included Cuba, Tibet, East Germany and the USSR.
Wall-eyed carp/ROCI Japan and detail, 1987, acrylic and fabric collage on canvas.
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Rauschenberg signatures on work done for ROCI
The Rauschenberg Foundation continues the work of ROCI.
Among its goals is the support of emerging and estabished artists through a residency program at the artist’s Florida home;
and, the use of philanthropy to connecting art, creativity and culture. The subjects addressed are important social issues.
As the years wore on, Rauschenberg’s tableaux grew very large, to encompass all the world which he had experienced, worked with and appreciated.
A gorgeous sensuality roils the entire surface of some of these canvas, layered with images to some depth.
People lingered in front of these tableaux, and paraded in front of them and watched themselves and fellow visitors.
Bible Bike (Borealis) and detail, 1991, screenprinted, chemical-resistant varnish and patina chemicals on three plates of brass, bronze and copper.
Museum Ludwig, Cologne on loan to MOMA, NY in 2017
Grand Black Tie Sperm Glut, 1987, riveted street signs and other metal parts. Loaned by the Rauschenberg Foundation to MOMA, NY in 2017.
The museum noted that the artist made this work, one of several in a ‘Glut’ series, in a reaction to the recession in his native state, Texas where a glut in the oil market threw the state into a deep recession. The artist is noting that the way forward is obscure. And that there is violence of a deathly kind in the economy in which we live.
Holiday Ruse (Night Shade) and detail, 1991, screenprinted chemical-resistant varnish, water and Almuma-Black.
Menil Foundation, Houston on loan to MOMA, NY in 2017
From 1992 onwards, Rauschenberg began using an Iris printer to make digital prints of his photographs.
This permitted high-resolution images, luminous hues in large-scale paper format.
Triathlon (Scenario) and detail, 2005, inkjet dye transfer on polylaminate.
Robert Rauschenberg Foundation loan to MOMA, NY in 2017
Booster and detail, 1967 from a series called Booster and 7 Studies in a collaboration with Gemini Graphic Editions Limited (G.E.L.) for which the artist created a print in six parts of an x-ray of his entire body.
Lithograph and screenprint on paper. MOMA, NY
This was the largest hand-pulled print at the time it was made and some thought this technique would come to challenge the predominance of painted images.
Mirthday May (Anagram (A Pun) and detail, 1997, water-soluble inkjet dye and pigment transfer on polylaminate.
Robert Rauschenberg. Loaned by the Faurschou Foundation to MOMA, NY in 2017.
The X-ray is the same as was made and used 30 years earlier in Booster. It is surrounded here with photographs taken by the artist over many years.
Robert, 1997, colour polaroid.
Chuck Close, American, 1940-2021. On exhibit at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in 2017
Robert Rauschenberg continued to work – with his left hand – when a stroke in 2002 cut off the use of his right hand. He worked with performers and printmakers and in collaboration with artists abroad.
In recent years it appears to have become fashionable for art world cognoscenti to denigrate this or that aspect of Rauschenberg’s prolific experimentation.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
All said and done, it was he who was the burning point of artistic life in his time in his country.
It is his work which has encouraged countless other artists with its audacity.
And with its practice of co-operative art-making and the sharing of ideas, experiments and skills.
Robert Rauschenberg died on Captiva which he had transformed by the time of his death into a nature reserve.