What Sold at Art Basel in Hong Kong
This is the original 1970 offset lithograph poster that is extremely rare when hand signed as this is. The present work is unframed and in fine condition. Below is background on the creation of this vintage poster, courtesy of the Rauschenberg Foundation:
"Here, individual artworks by Rauschenberg are examined within the scope of the artist’s work and life and within a broader art-historical and historical context. Works are also considered in relation to archival material often residing within the foundation’s holdings.
Earth Day, 1970
In response to a massive oil spill off the coast of Southern California in 1969, Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson initiated the idea of the first annual Earth Day on April 22, 1970. Soliciting support from Democratic and Republican leaders, Earth Day was conceived as a “national teach-in” to bring public awareness to the threat of global air and water pollution. What began as a grass-roots movement, with twenty million Americans participating, is now recognized as the launch of the environmental movement and observed in nearly 200 countries around the world.
Robert Rauschenberg designed the first Earth Day poster to benefit the American Environment Foundation in Washington, D.C., and it was published in an edition of 10,300 by Castelli Graphics, New York. Using the bald eagle as the dominant image, the artist symbolically placed the United States at the center of a global problem. Muted and muddy tones depicting environmental decay surround the national bird: polluted cities, contaminated waters, junkyards littered with debris, landscapes scarred by highways and deforestation, and the gorilla, another endangered animal. The safekeeping of the environment and the notion of individual responsibility for the welfare of life on earth was a longstanding concern of Rauschenberg, and this notion would inform his art and activism throughout his life. The poster designed for the inaugural Earth Day was one of many he would create to raise funds for the myriad social causes that were important to him. "
Not many of these vintage offset lithographs were hand signed; collectors' item.
A larger format lithograph, based on the original poster design and created as an edition of 50, was published by the American Environment Foundation and produced by Gemini G.E.L., Los Angeles.
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Signature: Boldly signed in graphite pencil on the recto (front)
Prominent artist poster collection, many of which were acquired directly from MOMA
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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