Castelli Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of Robert Rauschenberg. A Visual Lexicon. The exhibition includes work that spans the entire career of the artist, dating from 1959 to 2008 and realized in a variety of media. When viewed individually the works appear to be very different from each other; however, in reality they share a visual language unique to the work of Robert Rauschenberg.
Rauschenberg adopted, and gradually allowed to reappear, many photographic sources for his work; Rosalind Krauss in 1997 brilliantly described these visual sources as Rauschenberg’s “perpetual inventory.” Just as important to the repetition and arrangement of the silk-screened and collaged imagery is the playful juxtaposition of their placement, whether set one next to the other or, occasionally, one above the other. The combined effort of selecting images and juxtaposing and layering them reveals the artist’s perception of the work, and a single artwork may become like a diary of a day in the life of the artist.
Included in the exhibition is Untitled, a combine of a pocket watch, chain, and tin can created circa 1959, whose components are retranslated in other works throughout the show. Solvent transfers and collages on cloth and paper from the 1970s, including work from the Hoarfrost Series, offer a wider glimpse into the artist’s personal relationship to his materials and his interest in the temporality of combined images. The most physically imposing work in the show, at more than seven feet tall and 21 feet wide, Arcadian Survey (Spread), 1977, continues the familiar thread of visual repetition but introduces mirrored panels, an element that further contributes to the idea of duplicating and possibly multiplying the same image again and again. The white, collaged fabric panel in this multidimensional work echoes three works created as part of the Tablet Series in 1974, in which pieces of cardboard are sandwiched between layers of white paper in such a way that we may only perceive them through the changing textures of the surface. The most recent work in the exhibition is Untitled, 2008, a patinated and painted bronze sculpture of a ruler balanced upon a ball of twine. The juxtaposition of the materials of this work reinforces the artist’s interest in creating a conflict through which something ethereal may emerge.
Robert Rauschenberg was born in Port Arthur, Texas, in 1925. He was given his first exhibition at the Castelli Gallery in 1958. In 1964 he became the first American artist to receive the Golden Lion at the Biennale in Venice. He died in 2008 in Captiva.
The exhibition is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue with an essay by Mimi Thompson.