Robert Rauschenberg, ‘Signs’, 1970, Zane Bennett Contemporary Art

Rauschenberg conceived of “Signs” as a summation of the 1960s. The piece was an aborted commission for a magazine cover. Rauschenberg released the work in June, 1970, through his gallery affiliation, Castelli Graphics, in an edition of 250 signed impressions.

The 60s had turned Rauschenberg into a politically engaged artist, and he probably welcomed the challenge of coming to terms with a decade of seering experiences. Exercising his natural affinity for collage, he would try to make sense out of an explosive arc of events that most observers felt defied all sense. Raushenberg said the print “was conceived to remind us of love, terror, violence of the last ten years. Danger lies in forgetting.”

Publisher: Castelli Graphics, New York

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