Sunday, February 25, 2018

Erasing the Rules - A Robert Rauschenberg Retrospective at SFMOMA

The long creative career of the iconic American artist Robert Rauschenberg (1925 - 2008) has left an incredibly diverse body of work, which proved to be intriguing, whimsical, and sometimes deeply profound, as seen in a special exhibition at SFMOMA, titld Robert Rauschenberg: Erasing the Rules (November 18, 2017–March 25, 2018):
From the 1940s until his passing in 2008, Rauschenberg worked with everything from photography to items scavenged from New York City streets to vats of bubbling mud. More than 150 of Rauschenberg’s artworks, including prints, sculptures, paintings, and Combines (works that incorporate painting and sculpture), will be on view in the retrospective Robert Rauschenberg: Erasing the Rules, celebrating the artist’s continual experimentation with materials and collaborative working processes. The exhibition demonstrates how, with razor-sharp humor and intelligence, Rauschenberg broke down boundaries between disciplines, anticipated many of the defining cultural and social issues of our time, and redefined what art could be for the generations of artists who followed.
The exhibition was largely organized in chronological order, thus gave the viewers a clear sense of the evolution of the artist, and also certain trends of the art world.

First group mostly consisted of chromatic graphic works from the 1950s and they were quite fascinating.

DSCN0146 _ Sue, Robert Rauschenberg & Susan Weil, SFMOMA
Sue, c 1950, Robert Rauschenberg & Susan Weil

DSCN0147 _ Untitles (Scatole personali), Rauschenberg, c 1952
Untitles (Scatole personali), c 1952

DSCN0149 _ 22 The Lily White, Robert Rauschenberg DSCN0155 _ Erased de Kooning Drawing, Rauschenberg, 1953
22 The Lily White, 1951 & Erased de Kooning Drawing, 1953

DSCN0150 _ A Print Designed to exist in passing time, Rauschenberg, 1948
A Print Designed to exist in passing time, Rauschenberg, 1948

IMG_6628 _ Automobile Tire Print, 1953, Robert Rauschenberg
Automobile Tire Print, 1953

DSCN0157 _ Untitled (Night Blooming), Rauschenberg, c 1951 DSCN0159 _ Untitled [black painting], Rauschenberg, 1952
Untitled (Night Blooming), c 1951 & Untitled [black painting], 1952

Later on, his works obtained more colors and the third dimension, literally.

DSCN0167 _ Untitled, Rauschenberg
Untitled, 1958

DSCN0168 _ Bed, Rauchenberg, 1955 DSCN0193 _ First Time Painting, Rauschenberg, 1961
Bed, 1955 & First Time Painting, 1961

DSCN0182 _ Monogram, 1955–59, Robert Rauschenberg
Monogram, 1955-59

DSCN0170 _ Factum I & Factum II, Rauschenberg, 1957 & 1957
Factum I & Factum II, 1957 & 1957

One of his most ambitious and impactful accomplishment was a cycle of thirty-four illustrations for Inferno, with complex motifs and compositions, and appealingly understated palettes. These illustrations were as profound as they were beautiful.

DSCN0188 _ Thirty-Four Illustrations for Inferno (1-4, 18-21), Rauschenberg, 1958-60
Thirty-Four Illustrations for Inferno (1-4, 18-21), 1958-60

DSCN0189 _ Thirty-Four Illustrations for Inferno (5-8, 22-25), Rauschenberg, 1958-60
Thirty-Four Illustrations for Inferno (5-8, 22-25), 1958-60

DSCN0190 _ Thirty-Four Illustrations for Inferno (9-12, 26-29), Rauschenberg, 1958-60
Thirty-Four Illustrations for Inferno (9-12, 26-29), 1958-60

 DSCN0191 _ Thirty-Four Illustrations for Inferno (13-17, 30-34), Rauschenberg, 1958-60
Thirty-Four Illustrations for Inferno (13-17, 30-34), 1958-60

DSCN0197 _ Thirty-Four Illustrations for Inferno, Rauschenberg, 1958-60
Thirty-Four Illustrations for Inferno, 1958-60

Moving to the 1970s, Rauschenberg produced more works in three dimensions, and sometimes with additional mechanical motions and even sound, a fourth dimension.

DSCN0203 _ Mud Muse, Rauschenberg, 1968-71
Mud Muse, 1968-71

DSCN0212 _ Untitled (Venetian), Rauschenberg, 1973
Untitled (Venetian), 1973

Some were startlingly delicate, such as the Glacier and Jetty (Hoarfrost), and some robust and foreboding, such as Sor Aqua (Venetia).

DSCN0214 _ Glacier (Hoarfrost), Rauschenberg, 1974 DSCN0216 _ Jetty (Hoarfrost), Rauschenberg, 1974
Glacier (Hoarfrost), 1974 & Jetty (Hoarfrost), 1974

DSCN0220 _ Sor Aqua (Venetia), Rauschenberg, 1973
Sor Aqua (Venetia), 1973

Another highlight was his 1978 Hiccups, a group of paintings/prints on paper and zipped together into a long band, in no specified order. They were intriguing, beautiful, and deeply touching, for reasons hard to pin down.

DSCN0226 _ Hiccups (partial), Rauschenberg, 1978
Hiccups (partial), 1978

DSCN0223 _ Hiccups (partial), Rauschenberg, 1978

DSCN0230 _ Hiccups (partial), Rauschenberg, 1978

DSCN0233 _ Hiccups (partial), Rauschenberg, 1978

IMG_6634 _ Hiccups, Rauschenberg, 1978
Hiccups, 1978

I also like several pieces from late, such as the 1991 Holiday Ruse (Night Shade), when he was in his mid-seventies.

DSCN0234 _ Holiday Ruse (Night Shade), Rauschenberg, 1991
Holiday Ruse (Night Shade), 1991

DSCN0238 _ Catastrophe (Arcadian Retreat), Rauschenberg, 1996
Catastrophe (Arcadian Retreat), 1996

DSCN0240 _ Jap, 1999, Robert Rauschenberg
Jap, 1999

DSCN0242 _ Eagle Eye (Ruminations), 1999, Robert Rasuchenberg
Eagle Eye (Ruminations), 1999

Great encounter with this amazing artist.

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- Preview of the Newly Expanded SFMOMA
- Unauthorized SFMOMA Solo Show
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Friday, February 9, 2018

My Featured Painting - Modern Man

My recent painting Modern Man is a portrait of a faceless man (or a woman) — dark, brooding, and quite uncertain — who symbolizes the anxiety-ridden man or woman of our uneasy and quite dangerous time, who's willingly or unwillingly blind, and can only stumble along in the deep fog from which he or she could never escape. The world is a trap.

Modern Man / 現代人 / Moderner Mann
Modern Man
20" x 16"
Oil on Canvas
Completed in 2018

Originally posted on

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