Robert Rauschenberg: Art and Life in Real Time

I was really intrigued to see Ruschenberg’s exhibition as I had learnt about him through the Modern Art & Society course I took with Coursera. So I found it helpful to put some context to the name in which his Bed, 1955 was discussed in depth.

Untitled (from the inaugural series in honor of President Jimmy Carter), 1977. Lithograph, Robert Rauschenberg
Untitled (from the inaugural series in honor of President Jimmy Carter), 1977. Lithograph, Robert Rauschenberg

I found the image above intriguing. The handwritten text on the print reminded me a little of Jim Goldberg’s work Open See where the subject had written notes about themselves on the actual photograph. The montage includes images of the Lincoln Memorial, the House of Congress, the Capitol building during an inauguration, a vintage photo of a group of men in uniform, and finally at the extreme bottom right of the frame a photo of Jimmy Carter receiving a hug from his daughter. This image provides such a poignancy to the whole montage. In spite of the philosophical statements written in red pen and the images representing the most important seat in American government, we are brought down to earth with the final realisation that this man is first and foremost a family man and his caring embrace provides a foreshadowing of his term of office.

Octave 1960, Oil on canvas, Robert Rauschenberg
Octave 1960, Oil on canvas, Robert Rauschenberg

His other work that I liked was Octave 1960, which is part painting and part sculpture. A piece of furniture, the ladder back of a chair (resembling a real ladder) has been attached to the canvas, paper and other fragments of clothing and textiles have been added to the canvas and oil paint has been applied overtop. The ladder visually represents a musical octave (although personally I think another rung to the ladder would be needed to make this an octave). This is an example of Rauschenberg terms a “combine”. By making combines (combining various art forms and objects together) Rauschenberg left a legacy to artists allowing them the freedom to create what they wanted however logical or illogical the conclusion of their work.

Artist Harry Dodge, USC Professor of Art History, Megan R. Luke and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles Chief Curator Helen Molesworth discuss Rauschenberg’s work in this video.

Reference List

Robert Rauschenberg: Art and Life in Real Time [online]. Seattle Art Museum. Available from: http://www.seattleartmuseum.org/Exhibitions/Details?EventId=38862 [Accessed 13 January, 2016]

Robert Rauschenberg [vidcast, online]  Dir. Jan van Baal. The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. 24/09/2015. 4 mins 20 secs. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n6RseaEqVQA (accessed 16/01/2016).

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