Balancing Act

Jiyeon Pereira
Oct 2, 2014 3:44AM

My exhibition, entitled "balancing act" conveys a narrative about the contrasts between war and everyday life. These images start in limited color, black and white, blue and white, and then they transition to color,  and begin to include sculpture. The works also are produced during time of war and conflict in the United States, but Rauschenberg's art is about finding balance and keep going in times of struggle. These works are from periods from 1950 to 1973, 1986, 1996, and 2008. Towards the end of the exhibition, other contemporary artists are shown to give examples of the impact of their work on Rauschenberg. The overall message is that life is short. We must stop war and enjoy life, and create good experimental art in the process.

1. Postcard Self-Portrait 

Artist: Robert Rauschenberg

Date: 1952

Medium: Gelatin Silver Print

The composition is very unique. A figure is at the top of the composition. He is lined up with the horizontal line. His face is slanted up, and he is looking at something. He is very curious about what is going on the other side across from him. 

2. Ceiling + Light Bulb, Black Mountain (II)

Artist: Robert Rauschenberg

Date: 1950

Medium: ?

This portrait symbolizes the potential for hope. Although the light bulb is not illuminated, it has the potential to be turned on. The focal point's position in the top left gives the viewer the idea that the light bulb could provide hope against the dark elements of the background.

3. Untitled (double Rauschenberg), circa

Artist: Robert Rauschenberg

Date: 1950

Medium: mono print: exposed blueprint paper

The white provides a vibrant contrast to the coldness of the blue in this exposed double portrait. The figures are dynamic and give a strong sense of motion and interaction with the environment.

4. Bob + Cy, Venice

Artist: Robert Rauschenberg

Date: 1952

Medium: gelatin silver print

I like overlapping image with architecture, horse statues, and figures. Two of the figures are in the foreground at the bottom, the architecture is at the middle ground, and the horse statues are at the top. Those horse statues are bigger than the human figures, placing them in a hierarchy style. One person is looking at the viewer straight and the other person is sitting in a profile position, but his face frontal toward the viewer. Both figures are in a serious pose.

5. Untitled (Gold Painting) 

Artist: Robert Rauschenberg

Date: circa. 1953

Medium: gold and silver leaf on fabric newspaper, paint, wood, paper, glue, and nail on wood in wood-and-glass frame

I like texture and color; silver, gold, purple, and brown. The destroyed nature of the materials also makes an interesting statement about holes or gaps in our environment. Also, the materials are trapped in the box, symbolizing the self-destructive power of society. 

6. Charlene 

Artist: Robert Rauschenberg

Date: 1954

Medium: oil, charcoal, paper, fabric, newspaper, wood, plastic, mirror, and metal on four homasote panels, mounted on wood with electric light.

The straight angles and use of horizontal lines give the piece a sense of order. The light and wheel add a feeling of hope to the boxed-in panels, and the color and texture varieties add a complicated physical aspect to the composition. This work is also, important because it is entirely abstract. 

7. Music Box (Elemental Sculpture) 

Artist: Robert Rauschenberg

Date: circa. 1955

Design is unique. What kind of music box is that?

Medium: Wood crate with traces of metallic paint, nails, three unattached stones, and feathers

The feathers are hidden in the background of the box. This could symbolize hope, although they are distant and hidden in the darkness. The stone also add a round, organic shape against the harsh nails. The entire piece has the theme of resilience. 

8. Three Traps for Medea 

Artist: Robert Rauschenberg

Date: 1959

Medium: oil, paper, wire, glass bottle on wood with fabric, metal, string, hair, and blurb bob on wire

What are the three item traps? Boxes, fabric, and hair seem to imply a person. The individual parts of the sculptures seem to show that his or her environment traps a person. The wire and metal of the composition symbolize war, while the slight amount of color and bottle symbolize hope that there is a way out. The door on the bottom serves as an entry and an exit from the trap of war.

9. Untitled (Cunningham Dancers)

Artist: Robert Rauchenberg

Medium: contact print

This photograph uses modern dancers to tell the story of a struggle between opposite sides. One dancer pulls two other dancers towards him, but they resist with a determined look on their faces. One dancer in the background has given up and is laying on the floor. Two other dancers in the background are both looking away from the conflict in the front. This photograph beautifully represents three ways of responding to fight: fighting back, giving up, or ignoring the conflict.

10. Rigger

Artist: Robert Rauschenberg

Date: 1961

Medium: Use the limited color; white, yellow, red, yellow oak, and black

This piece is unique for its fast movement and big brush strokes. I like the texture that two pieces of metal are hanging there like a fishing pole. This piece marks a transition for Rauschenberg because it has more bright colors and movement, unlike some of his earlier contemplative and stationary works.

11. Gold Standard 

Artist: Robert Rauschenberg

Date: 1964

Medium: oil, paper, printed reproductions, clock, cardboard box, metal, fabric, wood, string, shoe, and Coca - Cola bottles on gold folding Japanese screen with electric light, rope, and ceramic dog on bicycle seat and wire - mesh base

Narrative story.

I like color, texture, and the sculpture; ceramic dog

The piece was created during a performance of Twenty Questions to Bob. Rauschenberg uses abstract techniques to give the overall composition a fun and light feeling. However, the dog in the front tells a different story. The sculpture; ceramic dog, he is trapped there, and the wires and metal around him symbolize the heaviness of the problems of modern society.

12. Sor Aqua (Venetian)

Artist: Robert Rauschenberg

Date: 1973

Medium: water-filled bathtub, wood, metal, rope, and glass jug

There is a bathtub filled with water at the foreground in the composition. Also, there is a sculpture over the tub on the ceiling which is hanging in the air. It implies that it could fall into the bathtub and then, it could make a big noise and water could splash everywhere like a bomb. The space is so clam, and it has a intense feeling. The artist conveys he need to be relaxed and calm, but there is struggle going on everyday in life. The bathtub (around, smooth, clean, rusty) symbolizes outlook and the metal sculpture (sharp, heavy, dangerous, intense) symboling conflict. The rope represents the balance between conflict and relaxation, and the glass jug is symbolic of the person, who is always trying to fight between the two.

13. Tibetan Garden Song

Artist: Robert Rauschenberg

Date: 1986

Medium: Mixed Media Sculpture; Chinese cello, chrome washtub, Chinese scroll maker's brush

Tibetan Garden Song still shows the theme of art being trapped by war and conflict, but its sculptural elements (such as the brush) show that art has the potential to be created of its dirtier parts and sadness caused by war.

14. Untitled (We Must Stop)

Artist: David Shrigley

Date: 2008

Medium: monotype on paper

Shrigley's work echoes Rauschenberg's theme. The simple while background and message in red get the viewer's attention and force the viewer to think about art's purpose in putting an end to war.

15. Composition I

Artist: Roy Lichtenstein

Date: 1996

Medium: screen print in color on lanaquarelle

Roy Lichtenstein's work ends this exhibition on a hopeful note. The colors are similar to Rauschenberg's later work, and the vibrant notes remind the viewer to enjoy life and to approach art in a more playful and experimental way.

Jiyeon Pereira