What Sold at Art Basel in Hong Kong
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Robert Rauschenberg’s Deepend (Scenario) premiered at PaceWildenstein in the 2006 exhibition Robert Rauschenberg: Scenarios and the Ancient Incident. His Scenarios cull imagery from the American environment and have been aptly described as “massive ‘super’ multilayered paintings that tell stories and cry out about American life; they are panoramas that have an epic quality.” (Oscar Hijuelos, Robert Rauschenberg: Scenarios, exh. cat., Pace Gallery, New York, 2005) Rauschenberg’s artistic interest spans across every type of medium, working in and conjoining photography, printmaking, papermaking, and performance. Most revealingly of his later interest in the flatness of composition, Rauschenberg spent an important period in his early career as a set designer for the groundbreaking choreographers Merce Cunningham and Paul Taylor. As a print maker, Rauschenberg was the first artist to document the technique of transfer printmaking in 1958, when he recognized that when newspaper was soaked in solvent, the image would transfer onto collages and painting.
This early pioneering technique led Rauschenberg in 1992 to utilize his Iris printer to make digital high-resolution prints of his photographs and by the use of dye transfer process, he produced large scale works on paper, or as seen in the present lot, Rauschenberg’s Scenarios appear painterly in technique, like a collage of imagery that is both fluid and discrete. Collage for the artist was an early interest of his gleaned from the cubist experiments of Braque and Picasso and the assemblages of the Dadaists. In 2005 the New York Times describes Rauschenberg’s studio work tables “as covered with piles of enlarged photographs -- material for his ‘Scenarios,’ a series of 7-by-10-foot canvases incorporating images of everything from street signs to windswept dunes. Standing up ‘until my legs give out,’” is how the artist’s describes the process of meticulously arrangement the photographs. (Carol Vogel, “The Robert Rauschenberg Reunion Tour,” The New York Times, December 18, 2005) Deepend (Scenario), 2006 presents us with a myriad of clashing images, wheels on a highway truck and airplane, an idle, locked-up bicycle, water rushing, a boat moored to a dock, a neoclassical sculpture of marble nymphs, and the fawning palm tree branches with acai berries. Each image, strategically placed, emphasizes a precise movement or condition of arrested movement: wheels spinning, water flowing, Palm leaves wavering in the wind, They are visually unified not only by their common shapes and intimations of motion but also by the way each image has been processed and assembled to create a softly glowing composition; this is suggested but by the illusion of yellow sunlight that uniformly bathes each image within the larger whole. The power of these collaged images arises from the seemingly haphazard play of shapes and motif that are ultimately made unified by an underlying, subtle affinity of forms and connotations. As an art critic recently noted, “In a finished Rauschenberg, you see a goat, a tire, a tennis ball, but more than that, you see the insights that brought them together. Each component keeps its integrity within a composition in which everything contributes to a profound effect of overall beauty. Indeed, few artists of his era so unabashedly strove for beauty, even majesty: The logic of his work, beginning with cast-offs and flotsam demanded it. It was the dare he put to himself in everything he made. (Dan Chiasson, “Robert Rauschenberg’s Endless Combinations,” The New York Times, June 30, 2015)
—Courtesy of Phillips
Signature: signed and dated "RAUSCHENBERG 2K+6" lower center edge; each panel respectively numbered "206.001 1 of 2" and "206.001 2 of 2" on the reverse
New York, PaceWildenstein, Robert Rauschenberg: Scenarios and the Ancient Incident, October 27 - November 25, 2006, no. 6 (illustrated)
New York, L&M Arts, Paintings & Drawings, July 7 - September 9, 2008
PaceWildenstein, New York
Robert Rauschenberg’s enthusiasm for popular culture and, with his contemporary Jasper Johns, his rejection of the angst and seriousness of the Abstract Expressionists led him to search for a new way of painting. A prolific innovator of techniques and mediums, he used unconventional art materials ranging from dirt and house paint to umbrellas and car tires. In the early 1950s, Rauschenberg was already gaining a reputation as the art world’s enfant terrible with works such as Erased de Kooning Drawing (1953), for which he requested a drawing (as well as permission) from Willem de Kooning, and proceeded to rub away the image until only ghostly marks remained on the paper. By 1954, Rauschenberg completed his first three-dimensional collage paintings—he called them Combines—in which he incorporated discarded materials and mundane objects to explore the intersection of art and life. “I think a picture is more like the real world when it’s made out of the real world,” he said. In 1964 he became the first American to win the International Grand Prize in Painting at the Venice Biennale. The 1/4 Mile or Two Furlong Piece (1981–98), a cumulative artwork, embodies his spirit of eclecticism, comprising a retrospective overview of his many discrete periods, including painting, fabric collage, sculptural components made from cardboard and scrap metal, as well as a variety of image transfer and printing methods.
American, 1925-2008, Port Arthur, Texas, based in New York and Captiva Island, Florida
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