Robert Rauschenberg: Combines

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Overview

Poetic and lush, Robert Rauschenberg's Combines present layers of complex and sometimes conflicting information. This approach, first explored by Rauschenberg in the early 1950s, proved prescient and has become increasingly relevant in the current age of cascading information, when even the most ground-breaking artists are referencing and sampling disparate elements to create new forms. The Combines suggest the fragility of definitions, the fluidity of materials, and the complexity of forms that are characteristic of Rauschenberg's works. The artist's handling of materials provides a precise physical evolutionary link between the painterly qualities of Abstract Expressionism and iconographical, subject-driven early Pop Art. This book focuses on the works created roughly between 1954 and 1964, the most important decade in the artist's 50-year career, and constitutes the most complete survey of the Combines ever presented, as well as the most rigorous analysis of their political, social, autobiographical, and aesthetic significance. An introductory essay by exhibition curator Paul Schimmel titled "Reading Rauschenberg" offers an iconographic analysis of the earlier Combines, based on in-depth conversations with the artist. Other texts help to contextualize the Combines, such as Thomas Crow's essay that calls them the major artistic statement of their time, and the one body of art that could simultaneously hold its own with De Kooning to the rear and Pop art to come.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9783865211453
  • Publisher: Steidl, Gerhard Druckerei und Verlag
  • Publication date: 1/28/2006
  • Pages: 324
  • Product dimensions: 10.20 (w) x 12.50 (h) x 1.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Rauschenberg was born in Port Arthur, Texas, in 1925. After studying in Paris on the G.I. Bill in his twenties, he returned to the U.S., pausing only to investigate the Black Mountain College art scene before taking on—and swiftly conquering—New York. He had his first solo show at Leo Castelli Gallery in his early thirties, and quickly went on to become one of the most important artists of the twentieth century. Rauschenberg is represented in every major museum collection, and many retrospective exhibitions of his work have toured the globe—including a thematic one at the Guggenheim Museum in 1997. In 1970, he moved to Captiva Island, off the Gulf Coast of Florida, where he still lives and works.

Paul Schimmel is Chief Curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles and the author of Out of Actions and a monograph on Chris Burden.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2006

    A Richly Rewarding Survey of the Gifts of Robert Rauschenberg

    ROBERT RAUSCHENBERG: COMBIINES is the name of an exhibition currently on display and one garnering some of the warmest acceptance by both critics and public alike of any retrospective survey in years. Not that Rauschenberg is a 'discovery' unearthed by this generous volume: there have been many excellent monographs and catalogues printed about this extraordinarily gifted artist who for the past half century has been creating art from found and constructed objects. Rauschenberg's art has always had secondary messages - political, anti-war, ethnic, sexual, and ecological statements - housed in the fascinatingly complex assemblages that are part of the collections of the major museums around the world. This fine book limits its survey to the prescient years 1954 to 1964, that period during which Rauschenberg became well known and highly respected for his art and beliefs. Curator Paul Schimmel writes a fine essay about this period and accompanies his own perceptions with those garnered from a very informative shared conversation with Rauschenberg himself. Likewise Thomas Crow writes an immensely readable chapter on just how Rauschenberg came in this realm of artistic expression and from Crow's writing we learn much about the mid-century changes in American art. The reproductions of the art works are excellent and if there aren't as many images as one would wish, it is because of the self-imposed limited time frame in Rauschenberg's career of the exhibition. A fine volume, highly recommended for all art history majors and for those under the spell of this great artist. Grady Harp

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