solvent transfer on Arches paper with gouache, watercolour, coloured pencil and pencil
57.1 x 75.6 cm
[from the pressrelease]
Regarded as among the most influential and iconoclastic artists of his day, Rauschenberg’s best known work is characterised by a fascination with and appropriation of contemporary media, which can be seen throughout the transfer drawings. Whilst the drawings anticipate his silkscreen paintings of 1962–64, they are also amongst Rauschenberg’s most original and playful works and represent a true innovation in the history of drawing technique.
The exhibition is comprised of over thirty drawings, a sizeable percentage of the total number created in these decades. It will include several works on loan from important international collections, and an equal number of exceptional works presented for sale, such as Headline (1962), previously part of the collection of Andy Warhol and shown at the Whitney Museum in the year it was made, and Complete Relaxation (1958), from the year Rauschenberg began his 34 drawings for Dante’s Inferno (collection Museum of Modern Art, NY).
Rauschenberg began experimenting with the medium in 1952, before his landmark Combines, and at an increasing pace in the late 1950s. They are the fruit of his fascination with ‘the gap between art and life’. These were the artist’s first attempts to capture and repurpose mass media imagery, created by taking photographic images from newspapers and magazines and impressing them, in reverse, directly onto paper by hatching and rubbing with a dry pen nib. Whilst the drawings are not narrative in the traditional sense, they succeed in creating an evocative slice of contemporary life, embodying what Brian O’Doherty defined as Rauschenberg’s ‘vernacular glance.’