NEW YORK, NY.- Mnuchin Gallery is presenting Robert Rauschenberg: Exceptional Works, 1971-1999, the gallery’s first exhibition dedicated to Robert Rauschenberg. On view from May 3-June 11, 2022, the show is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue featuring a conversation on Rauschenberg between curator and critic Jeffrey Weiss and artist Kevin Beasley, with an introduction by Christopher Rauschenberg.
Robert Rauschenberg is rightfully situated as one of the most influential artists of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. His use of found and experimental materials, collapsing of distinct artistic categories, and an eye towards collaboration and political activism have been inspiration for younger artists for generations. Paradoxically, the breadth of his multidimensional and perpetually ambitious oeuvre has yet to be adequately examined, and his later experiments have been given less acclaim as a result. With examples from fourteen different series, Robert Rauschenberg: Exceptional Works, 1971-1999 aims to provide a new avenue through which to appreciate this innovative artist. In juxtaposing these works, viewers can see how themes Rauschenberg first touched on in early works such as the White Paintings (1951) or the Combines (1954–64) remained anchors in his practice while evolving to meet each present moment.
The exhibition’s earliest work is Castelli / Small Turtle Bowl (1971) from the Cardboard series (1971–72), made shortly after his consequential move to Captiva, off the coast of Florida. Here, the choice of found cardboard illustrates many things at once: a continued preference towards readymade, readily available materials, and a fascination with the history of each chosen object; a reflection on consumerism and globalization; and Rauschenberg’s personal experience of moving and traveling. These themes continue and morph in the Hoarfrost (1974–76) and Jammer (1975–76) series, both of which are represented in the exhibition. Each take hung and draped fabric as their starting point, but to different ends. The Hoarfrosts, such as Untitled (Hoarfrost) (1974), revisit the solvent transfer technique Rauschenberg first developed while traveling with Cy Twombly in the early 1950s, imparting faint and haunting imagery onto the fabric. Meanwhile, the series title is pulled from Dante’s Inferno, a nod to his earlier body of Dante Drawings (1958–60) also made with the solvent transfer process. As the Hoarfrosts evolved into the Jammers—whose name is taken from the term “windjammers,” again inspired by his move to Captiva—Rauschenberg radically removed nearly all imagery to allow the fabric to take center stage. Inspired by a visit to India in 1975, the Jammers make plain Rauschenberg’s turn towards a global outlook that would culminate in the Rauschenberg Overseas Culture Interchange (ROCI) project (1984–91)—represented in this exhibition by My Panare Dream With Yutaje / ROCI VENEZUELA (1985).