Home » Exhibitions » Exhibition Review : Robert Rauschenberg at the Tate Modern – 1st December 2016 to 2nd April 2017

Exhibition Review : Robert Rauschenberg at the Tate Modern – 1st December 2016 to 2nd April 2017



The Tate Modern presents a major exhibition of the work of Robert Rauschenberg, organised in collaboration with The Museum of Modern Art in New York. The exhibition will be the most comprehensive survey of the artist’s work for 20 years.


The exhibition begins by exploring some of Rauschenberg’s early experiments at Black Mountain College in the late 1940s and early 1950s, the college was considered one of the most progressive in the United States and attracted other artists in a number of disciplines  including John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Jasper Johns, David Tudor, Cy Twombly and Susan Weil.


Even at this time, Rauschenberg was exploring the boundaries of art with his seminal Erased de Kooning Drawing and Automobile Tire Print in 1953. In 1954, he began to experiment with what would later be considered Pop Art. One of his friends, Merce Cunningham who was creating a reputation in dance  asked the artist to design a set for a new piece with music by John Cage.


In 1954, Rauschenberg began to create ‘Combines’ that were paintings with objects added to give a more 3D effect, two of his most famous Combines are featured in the exhibition, Monogram 1955 – 59 which features a stuffed goat and Bed 1955.


As the 1960s began, Rauschenberg like a number of other artists began to include icons of American society into his work. His preferred method of media was silkscreen on which he would include images taken from photographs. The silkscreens were very popular and raised Rauschenberg profile, successful exhibitions in New York and London was followed by success at the Venice Biennale where he became the first American to win a prize for painting.


The 1970s saw Rauschenberg travelling the world and finding ways to explore Live performances and using technology. One of the highlights of the exhibition is Mad Muse 1968 -71 which is a large tank full of clay and water which bubbles and spurts as air is released.


His travels continued into the 1980s and he founded the Rauschenberg Overseas Culture Exchange that encourages the use of art to overcome cultural and political divides. Closer to home, a trip to his home state of Texas led to a series of works featuring discarded gas station signs and car parts.


The artist’s later works were generally photographic with many of the works referring to pieces from his past.


This entertaining and intriguing exhibition introduces Rauschenberg’s work to a wider audience and offers the opportunity to see some of the artist’s seminal works. From his early experimental pieces to his last works, Robert Rauschenberg explored the boundaries of art. He used a variety of media including painting, sculpture, photography, print-making, technology, stage design and performance to attempt to understand world around him. It is his originality and ability to be ahead of trends rather than following that goes some way to explain why is considered one of the most interesting American artists of the 20th century.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information or to book tickets, visit the Tate Modern website here

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