Setting pace: long-awaited showing of Robert Rauschenberg’s late works draws snaking queues in New York

Setting pace: long-awaited showing of Robert Rauschenberg’s late works draws snaking queues in New York

Robert Rauschenberg, the revered painter and print maker who also turned to assemblage and installation work, has never stopped astounding art enthusiasts, so it’s no surprise that Pace Gallery’s ‘Robert Rauschenberg: Anagrams, Arcadian Retreats, (A Pun)’, which opened this week in New York, is dedicated to the artist pioneering new methodology that combines the dye transfer process of continuous color photography with large scale paper (and even laminate) panels, and sees queues going around the block. Staged together with the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, the show marks the first time Pace Gallery has shown the artist’s works since his death in 2008.

‘Rauschenberg galvanized the artists of the second half of the 20th century and contributed to the rise of every art movement of the sixties and seventies straight through,’ says Marc Glimcher, president of Pace. A case in point: the artist’s groundbreaking work of the 50’s and 60’s alone not only preceded Pop art, but also Neo-Dadaism. At the same time, Rauschenberg’s oeuvre also made a profound impact on both Minimalist and Conceptual artists.

What makes the works on view so extraordinary is that Rauschenberg’s water-soluble inkjet transfer process led to a fluid painterly appearance. Such pivotal examples as the artist’s 1996 piece,  ‘Fusion (Anagram)’ which stretches more than twelve feet in width, practically envelops the viewer with disparate images ranging from bottles of Pepsi, bicycle wheels and electric light bulbs that seem lost in a haze.  It’s that notion of capturing out-of-the-blue elements, such as bags of balloons and Grecian sculptures that leave the viewer searching for yet more recognizable objects.

It’s a wonderful precursor to the Tate Modern’s Rauschenberg retrospective next year – the institution’s first highlighting of the artist’s oeuvre since his death.

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