Robert Rauschenberg, ‘Earth Day’, 1990, Zane Bennett Contemporary Art

Robert Rauschenberg was an avid environmental activist. In 1970, he created a print for the inaugural Earth Day. Twenty years later, he observed Earth Day 1990—which vaulted the celebration onto the world stage, with over 200 million participants—by creating this color silkscreen.

Earth Day has a striking arrangement of imagery in the photojournalism style Rauschenberg is known for. With imagery of a barren landscape overlaid with swaths of brilliant green, the artist is asking the viewer to consider the environment and our effect on it.

Just as Rauschenberg incorporated everyday objects into his iconic assemblages, he brought quotidian imagery crashing together through printmaking. He often incorporated his own photographs and found images, electrifying them with colorful, exuberant marks. In Rauschenberg's prints, we sense his dual role as a disruptor of Abstract Expressionism and a progenitor of Pop Art.

Signature: Earth Day is signed, dated in pencil, and editioned 15/75 on the lower right.

Publisher: Gemini G.E.L.

About Robert Rauschenberg

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