Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Robert Rauschenberg: Death of an Open Eye

Untitled 1963

Rauschenberg est morte.

Readers of this space know that my first artistic influence was Dada. So it is not surprising that I felt a kinship to Rauschenberg's "assemblages." I love the way he took the found and random and found composition and beauty (and irreverence).

Here's a quote from the NYT obit:

Mr. Rauschenberg, who knew that not everybody found it easy to grasp the open-endedness of his work, once described to the writer Calvin Tomkins an encounter with a woman who had reacted skeptically to “Monogram” (1955-59) and “Bed” in his 1963 retrospective at the Jewish Museum, one of the events that secured Mr. Rauschenberg’s reputation: “To her, all my decisions seemed absolutely arbitrary — as though I could just as well have selected anything at all — and therefore there was no meaning, and that made it ugly.

“So I told her that if I were to describe the way she was dressed, it might sound very much like what she’d been saying. For instance, she had feathers on her head. And she had this enamel brooch with a picture of ‘The Blue Boy’ on it pinned to her breast. And around her neck she had on what she would call mink but what could also be described as the skin of a dead animal. Well, at first she was a little offended by this, I think, but then later she came back and said she was beginning to understand.”

I'll toast his memory tonight.

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