Arp to Warhol
19 November 2016
Robert Rauschenberg, 1925-2008
Passport. 1967. An exceptional internally-lit interactive ‘print/multiple’.
Screenprint in colours on three plexiglass rotating panels. 1967. Signed in incised script. Numbered 127 from the edition of 200 (plus 25 proofs). Issued for the portfolio 'Ten from Leo Castelli' to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Leo Castelli Gallery, 1967. Published by Tanglewood Press Inc., New York 1967.
Ref: Foster - Rauschenberg Prints no 39.
Excellent impression with very strong colours and in unusually fine undamaged condition. Disc diameter: 540mm. 21 1/4ins. Framed in a special back-lit light box.
Rauschenberg was one of the most influential and creatively important American artists in the era at the beginning of the 1960’s which led up to the American Pop Art movement. The Tate Modern, in London, will be staging the first retrospective in the UK of his art for 35 years in December this year.
The ground-breaking work ‘Passport’, here, was Rauschenberg’s contribution to the iconic collection of ten works by the leading Pop and avant-garde artists showing at the 10 year anniversary exhibition at Leo Castelli’s highly influential New York Gallery in 1967.
Rauschenberg was born in Texas, After university he decided to pursue his interest in art at the Black Mountain College in North Carolina where his tutor was the Bauhaus artist Joseph Albers. Albers insisted that his pupils followed his teaching ‘without experimentation’. Rauschenberg’s much-quoted reaction to this was to do ‘exactly the reverse’ of what he was taught. It sums-up the creative rebellion and inspiration which made his art so important.
In the 1950’s Rauschenberg focused on what he called ‘combines’ – works formed from collages of objects found in the streets combined with photography and painting. In this his ideas can be linked back to the Merz collages of Schwitters in the 1920’s. But they were also to lead on to the concept of modern ‘everyday’ pop imagery, especially through his use of advertising elements. His desire to combine all these elements was a principal factor in bringing Rauschenburg into contact with what was perhaps the most important medium in his art – the medium of screenprint.
When Castelli asked Rauschenberg to be a part of his iconic 1967 Pop Art exhibition Rauschenberg was also becoming fascinated by the concept of an actual physical interaction between viewer and artwork, through which the viewer could participate in changing the work. In ‘Passport’, here, he screenprinted his image of random shapes and colours onto three Perspex disks on a central pivot. Using a light source from behind (here created by an integral lightbox then by the light from a window) the viewer can independently rotate the discs so that the images and colours blend in an infinitely variable range of combinations.
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