Horse Silk (Night Sights Series)


Robert Rauschenberg claimed that since he grew up in a ‘very plain environment,’ he had to appreciate the simple, everyday things he encountered in life. Such an appreciation led to his spearheading a part of the Pop art movement that flourished in the 1960s. In the last forty years of his work as an artist, Rauschenberg’s consistency rested in using the entire world as his palette, incorporating artistic methods and strategies that stem from the nonsensical era of Dada in the 1920s and 1930s as well as the American art boom of Abstract Expressionism in the 1950s.

Rauschenberg’s earliest works broke the boundaries of traditional two-dimensional painting with the incorporation of found objects somehow attached to the painted canvas that may or may not hang on a wall, known as ‘combine’ paintings. These works often included a painterly, non-descriptive style akin to Abstract Expressionism. In true Dadaist fashion, Rauschenberg’s work incorporates elements from the world at large (such as sound and movement) that are often barely altered to suit a piece, and perhaps more valuable when they directly contrast with other objects and images within that given piece.

Rauschenberg also incorporated photography and photo-transfer methods into his work, with photo-silkscreen processes since the early 1960s and since, using solvent-based methods of transferring photographic images to other surfaces like theatrical backdrops, cardboard or draped, delicate fabric. Images from mass media as well as his own cachet of photographs appear in fragments or wholes in a quasi-grid formation. Contributing to a disparate sensibility and resisting one single interpretation, these works may be compositionally unified by an overall painterly application or geometric order by the artist, or not.

Robert Rauschenberg coined his own anti-styled style by remaining a true slave to change – the spirituality of a modern world. He resisted repetition by destroying older works (or their templates). He embraced technology through process and modernity through celebrating the ‘new’ and reviving the old.