As an avid environmentalist, Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008) designed the first Earth Day poster to benefit the American Environment Foundation in Washington, D.C. in 1970. Twenty years later, Rauschenberg created this color silkscreen and color pochoir on wove paper to celebrate the success of the 1990 Earth Day, which had 200 million participants.
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“Very quickly, a painting is turned into a facsimile of itself,” said Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008). “One becomes so familiar with it that one recognizes it without looking at it.” He could’ve been talking about Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, which makes a cameo in his 1996 intaglio printBanco, from Ground Rules. The portrait is so rooted in the modern cultural consciousness that we can instantly conjure it in our mind’s eye.
Thus, it’s a perfect tool for exploring the concept of authorship: the painting appears next to a window emblazoned with the words “YOUR NAME HERE.” By presenting the world’s most iconic painting beside advertising lingo, the postmodern master asks whether true ownership of an image is possible in the age of mass media. Learn more about the print below, and browse more works by Rauschenberg.
Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008) is having a moment—though you could argue that the postmodern provocateur has been en mode since the midcentury. In any case, the Museum of Modern Art’s blockbuster survey show Robert Rauschenberg: Among Friends recently closed in New York, and SFMOMA’s manifestation of the exhibition opens in late November. The new show is titled Robert Rauschenberg: Erasing the Rules, a reference to the artist’s legendary erasure of a Willem De Kooning drawing in the name of art. It was a seminal moment in his early career, but hardly characteristic of the work he would produce in the following decades.
Rauschenberg was a master of addition rather than subtraction, fearlessly layering a vast arsenal of bizarre materials to create sculptural paintings, painted sculptures and three-dimensional drawings that he referred to as “Combines.” Cock Sure, a mixed-media print that he produced with Pace in the 1990’s, represents a late chapter of his persistent experimentation. “Cock Sure is an extension of his curiosity, applying paint directly onto the glass surface, increasing the depth of the work so that it became three-dimensional,” wrote Art Daily. “The work is characteristically by Rauschenberg as seen through the inclusion of everyday images: an open sign, chickens, a windmill, and a dog resting by a brick wall.” Scroll down to view more works by Rauschenberg in the Zane Bennett Contemporary collection.
Robert Rauschenberg Arcanum VIII
22.5 x 15.5 in
Robert Rauschenberg Arcanum V
color silkscreen with hand-coloring and collage on paper
22.5 x 15.5 in
“My whole area of art has always been addressed to working with other people,” said Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008). “Ideas are not real estate.” It’s this collaborative philosophy that inspired MoMA’s Robert Rauschenberg: Among Friends, the first retrospective of the American artist’s work in the 21st century. The museum calls the show an “open monograph,” with Rauschenberg’s work appearing alongside the art of his contemporaries. It’s a labyrinthine flow chart of ideas, which is also an apt way to describe his prints.
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. We’ve added two new prints by Rauschenberg to the Zane Bennett Contemporary collection. Scroll down to view Earth Day and Arcanum V, and click here to browse all of our artwork by Rauschenberg.
Robert Rauschenberg Arcanum V (from Arcanum Series), 1981
Color silkscreen with hand-coloring and collage on paper
Published and printed by Styria Studio, New York
#12 of 85
Signed and dated with edition in graphite lower right sheet; Styria
Studio blind stamp lower right sheet
Image/sheet: 22.5″ x 15.5″; Frame: 31.25″ x 24.25″
Robert Rauschenberg Earth Day, 1990
Color silkscreen and color pochoir on wove paper pencil
sheet: 64.25″ h x 42.75″ w overall (with frame): 68.25″ h x 46.5″ w
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.