Travel to Tate Modern, London’s top exhibition space for international modern art, to marvel at this first, posthumous, ravishing retrospective on trailblazing American artist Robert Rauschenberg (1928 – 2008) co-organised with the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Major world loans are on view including some iconic ‘Combines’ (his hybrids between painting and sculpture) such as Monogram 1955-59 (goat in a tyre) and Bed 1955.
Rauschenberg’s artworks in all their variety ooze with vibrancy and inventiveness nurtured in his student days at Black Mountain College USA, a hotbed of artistic innovation. From there he collaborated with fellow artists like John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Jasper Johns, Cy Twombly and more.
Moving seamlessly between painting, sculpture, photography, print-making, technology, stage design and performance, Rauschenberg favoured creative fluidity and rejected boundaries in art and life.
He was the first US artist to win the Golden Lion for painting at the Venice Biennale 1963, his quest for innovation was fired by his openness to the world, his enthusiasm for working with others and his love of travel.
Each phase of his six-decade creativity is represented here. His seminal Erased de Kooning Drawing (1953) recognises the achievements of abstract expressionism whilst agitating the limits of what art could be. His signature silk-screen paintings signal his attempts to bring politics, mass media imagery and street scenes in to his work. Retroactive II 1964 portrays John F Kennedy soon after his assassination.
He was a founder of Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.) in the 1960s to create conversations between artists and engineers, encouraging interaction between the visual arts, performance and science. His astonishing Mud Muse 1968-71 is a vast tank of 1000 gallons of bubbling Bentonite clay mixed with water, on loan from Moderna Museet, Stockholm and never before shown in UK.
In the early 1970s Rauschenberg moved his studio to Captiva, Florida and travelled across Europe, Asia and the Americas. His Cardboards 1971-2 (a wry comment on the forces of globalisation) and his sumptuous fabric works such as The Jammers 1975-6 (inspired by a visit to the Indian textile centre of Ahmedabad) show his skilful play with unconventional materials. Also featured is his epic travelling exhibition project Rauschenberg Overseas Cultural Exchange (ROCI) taking in Chile, China, Tibet and Cuba.
A core theme of his art-making is his love of dance and performance (Merce Cunningham, Trisha Brown). On 27 and 28 January 2017 the renowned Trisha Brown Dance Company will perform Set and Reset in the Tanks at Tate Modern using the original set and costumes designed by Robert Rauschenberg, who continued to innovate in his art right up to the 21st-century.
Need to Know: ROBERT RAUSCHENBERG, The Eyal Ofer Galleries, Tate Modern, London SE1 9TG, 1 December 2016 – 02 April 2017, Open Daily 10.00 – 18.00 and until 22.00 on Friday and Saturday, T: +44 (0)20 7887 8888, W: tate.org.uk, Follow @Tate #Rauschenberg.
Global Sponsor: Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Supporting Sponsor: Tiffany & Co. In 2017 this exhibition will travel to the Museum of Modern Art in New York (MOMA) and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
EXHIBITION BOOK: ROBERT RAUSCHENBERG, Edited by Leah Dickerman & Achim Borchardt-Hume, 475 Colour Illustrations / 392pp, Hardback £40 / Paperback £30, Authors: Achim Borchardt-Hume is Director of Exhibitions, Tate Modern (Leah Dickerman is the Marlene Hess Curator of Paintings and Sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art, New York).