Robert Rauschenberg

Tate Modern Exhibition

1 December 2016-2 April 2017

 

This was a retrospective exhibition of six decades of Robert Rauschenberg’s work.  Each room dedicated to specific times in his career displayed his ability to reinvent his practice with extreme experimentation with various media. He moved through a variety of artistic movements being for many artists the granddaddy of expanded painting using collage, assemblage, screen-printing, painting, and pushing them to the brink. He took objects from everyday life: fans, socks, tires and inserted them into his canvas with his energetic abstract painterly gestures. This allows the work to speak to a broader audience and makes the art more democratic. He was able to create works that speak with a broad language by being utterly unencumbered by a certain style. Collaboration was very important in his practice clashing boundaries of performance, science, and sound. There are many commonalities with abstract expressionism and the supports and surfaces movement. Using unconventional supports like aluminium, copper, steel to carry his screen-prints with additions of his gestural painterly marks made using experimental varnishes. Whether using large-scale canvases or aluminium supports his layering suggests a mood that puts you in a trance. Equally as engaging were his cardboard reliefs displayed, situated and called Material Abstractions. Compared to his bold canvases these are simple materials with a sophistication of form. This exhibition was inspiring by showing his ability to continually develop work that spoke to the art movements of the time, flexibility to repurpose materials from his environment, and collaborating as a way to stay open to exciting developments.

Jacquelyn Hodges

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