Robert Rauschenberg at Gemini G.E.L.: Selected Works 1969-2000

Gemini G.E.L.
Jul 30, 2019 9:56PM

Robert Rauschenberg, Trust Zone, 1969, 3 color lithograph, 40’’ x 33’’ (101.60 x 83.82 cm), Edition of 65

Gemini G.E.L. is pleased to present our summer exhibition, Robert Rauschenberg at Gemini G.E.L.: Selected Works 1969‑2000. Featuring a range of prints, sculptures, and unique multiples from several series, the exhibition is on view from July 26.

Coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar mission, the show includes three works from Rauschenberg’s Stoned Moon Series, a series of 33 lithographs created in 1969. Inspired by the artist’s experience watching the Apollo 11 launch in Cape Canaveral, the works convey his interest in technological innovation, specifically his associations between NASA and the collaborative process of printmaking, as well as the connection between the surface of the moon and the surface of lithography stones. The Stoned Moon Series reflects his reaction to not only the space program and the potential impact of human activity on the moon, but also to the changing environs of Cape Canaveral, where the massive machinery and buildings of the space center were erected on the sparse coastal landscape.

The Horsefeathers Thirteen series (1972-76) demonstrates the experimental aspect of the artist’s practice, using the print medium to survey different ways of seeing and unearth new narratives by combining images. Images of animals, fruits, and people, all derived from magazines and newspapers, are juxtaposed with abstract shapes to elicit free association in an exciting and random clash of distinct visual elements.

7 Characters Series

7 Characters Series

Also included in the exhibition are several works that came about as a result of the artist’s travels in conjunction with the Rauschenberg Overseas Culture Interchange (ROCI). Established in 1984, ROCI was a global traveling exhibition of over 200 works by the artist, based on his visits and partnerships with artists and artisans throughout the world. The eight-year tour included exhibitions in Mexico, Chile, Venezuela, The People’s Republic of China, Tibet, Japan, Cuba, the former USSR, Berlin, Malaysia, and Washington, DC. The 7 Characters series of gold-leaf-edged unique collages were created and conceived during Rauschenberg’s 1982 journey with Gemini staff to the city of Jingxian, in the Anhui Province of the People's Republic of China, to see the Xuan Paper Mill. Rauschenberg visited museums and archeological sites in cities and villages throughout the country, in addition to meeting with art students in Beijing, before spending two weeks at the paper mill. The 7 Characters series was entirely conceived and fabricated in China: collage elements consisting of posters from Shanghai, local fabric swatches, and silk ribbons were arranged in unique configurations on a handmade sheet of Xuan paper and a layer of silk. Seven Chinese characters, selected by the artist for their meaning and aesthetic form, were carved into cherry wood, cast in paper and adhered to each piece: Individual, Change, Howl, Light, Trunk, Red Heart, and Truth, and a randomly selected, two-sided medallion, cut from authentic silk wedding bed covers, was suspended from each collage.

Robert Rauschenberg, Samarkand Stitches II , 1988, Unique screen print and fabric collage, 59" x 55" (149.86 x 139.70 cm), A series of 74 unique works

Robert Rauschenberg, Samarkand Stitches V , 1988, Unique screen print and fabric collage, 56" x 46" (142.24 x 116.84 cm), A series of 70 unique works

Samarkand Stitches were inspired by a trip to Uzbekistan later in the 1980s. Ikat silk fabrics imported from Samarkand were sewn together with domestic fabrics that had been screenprinted with photographic images taken by the artist during his travels to the former Soviet Union. The random ink colors and the assortment of Ikat fabrics are the unique elements among the individually assembled textiles, and the pieces are backed with assemblages of domestic fabrics. In 1999, Rauschenberg spent time in Morocco, exploring local communities and taking photographs that formed the basis for the multi-color screenprints in his Marrakitch series. The series exemplifies Rauschenberg’s interest in connecting with other cultures and the subsequent material associations made in his artistic practice, a common thread through his entire body of work.

Robert Rauschenberg Rookery Mounds - Gray Garden , 1979, 4 color lithograph, 41" x 31" (104.14 x 78.74 cm), Edition of 55

Other series represented in the exhibition are three-dimensional wood-and-fabric wall sculptures, Publicons (1978); Rookery Mounds (1979), wherein Rauschenberg’s photographs appear for the first time in his printmaking endeavors; American Pewter with Burroughs (1981), a collaboration between Rauschenberg and the author William Burroughs; and works from the 1990s including Illegal Tender L.A, Double Feature, Speculations, and L.A. Uncovered. For this last series, Rauschenberg incorporated his own photographs of Los Angeles, which he took while accompanied by two retired L.A. policemen. Originally titled L.A. Undercover, the series contains imagery from disparate sections of the city, reflecting Rauschenberg’s intent to create “a paper kaleidoscope about L.A.”.

Robert Rauschenberg (b. 1925, Port Arthur, Texas; d. 2008, Captiva, Florida) served in the U.S. Navy during World War II prior to studying art. After his honorable discharge in the summer of 1945, Rauschenberg attended the Kansas City Art Institute (1947) and the Académie Julien, Paris (1948) before studying at the Black Mountain College in North Carolina.

Rauschenberg’s work is held in nearly every major international public collection of postwar art, and he has been the subject of over 500 solo exhibitions and several major group exhibitions and fairs. In 2019, his monumental The 1/4 Mile or 2 Furlong Piece (1981-98) was presented in its entirety for the first time at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Incorporating textiles, mass media imagery, photographs by the artist, painting and found objects, the work exemplifies Rauschenberg’s innovation in a variety of mediums and techniques and embodies the experimental artistic practice that established him as a revolutionary artist of his generation.

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