Life and freedom in the works of Robert Rauschenberg and Mark Rothko

cristina zappa
Oct 19, 2014 8:55PM

Life and freedom in the works of Robert Rauschenberg and Mark Rothko

Curated by Mariacristina Zappa

The Venice Biennale of 1964 consecrates Rauschenberg’s works acting as a spark but we know very little of his earlier works. His modernity lies in having triggered a progressive process of digression of art from the canvas to the environment, revealing it self later on with happenings and performance and with a canonization in the poor and environmental art.

My idea is the one of an exhibition that would display the path backwards, from 1964 returning to the 50’s, to testify that Rauschenberg was the pioneer of post-modernism even earlier than Pop-art. Revealing his awareness that a new era was approaching, an era where research for the “new”, the interest for the Special and Avant-garde, and for the modern that was already post-modern was flourishing.

Comparing the works by Rauschenberg to the big panels by Mark Rothko i want to make the assembled work of Rauschenberg even more alive. The deepness of the colors used by Rothko makes his art works look vast, steady and immutable. 

From the monochromatic panels, to the “oggetti particolari” exposed during his stay in Rome and his assembled collage on paper and in the trasndimensional ones, Rauschenberg works were always expressing the passions affected by the “Advancing New”.

Since 1955 his eclectic spirit was hunting for a new way of painting using different materials: combining art and life with colorful fragmentations, rusty scarp irons, stewed or photographed animals, emotional explosions and ready made intelligently assembled meaning new needs of communal life, new ideas and frames of mind perceived as emblematic of a need of modernity.

His works are dazing and rowdy rhymes that pulse a relentlessly progressive daily and it is scanned or parceled, re-elaborated or alternated rather than to brush strokes to majestic smashings and disparate assembly. Caged or courtyard animals, photographed at times, carved out or stuffed, pictures of social chronicle, inventions and discoveries, details of still life, moving bodies and ready made are all a consecrations of explosions of life. Life is at the same time subject and protagonist of his works: the routine that surrounds him in his applications of life and thoughts.

Toweling and newspaper on wood structure with brick, string, fork, softball, nail, metal hinges: everything combined with objects of common use (wood, door lighting, ventilation conduct, automobile door on typewriter table, ventilation conduct in washtub and water, electronic components, ventilation conduct): a patient re-elaboration to highlight the advancing process and acknowledging that life changes. Nature is dominated and paralyzed, by this point impassive because bored or stuffed and it participates to the change silently and inert. Here R is again a precursor of the problem of global pollution and in the noisy and dynamic mish-mash of his works animals appear as the only element that is actually paralyzed; we don’t see this even in the iron sculptures that seem to have acquired a new life that they didn’t have before. 

cristina zappa
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Jenna Gribbon, Luncheon on the grass, a recurring dream, 2020. Jenna Gribbon, April studio, parting glance, 2021. Jenna Gribbon, Silver Tongue, 2019