Features and Surface from Currents Series
Robert Rauschenberg felt that Americans
were confronted with words, numbers, and images everywhere the
turned. No one could possibly absorb it all, and therefore the
media's messages were becoming meaningless. He needed a new
way to approach the public and make them see and not just look
at their surroundings.
Rauschenberg's solution was his surface series.
this particular series is one of 18, which he created in 1970.
He used clippings from various dally newspapers to form an unusual
collage, which was then transformed into a photo silkscreen
print. The articles and images reflect contemporary American
issues and themes. He includes everything from a car headlight
and advertisement for an adult bookshop, to an article on dissent
in the Army. None of the Elements are particularly unusual,
and that is the point. It is the mundane pieced together to
form an a suggestive and thought - provoking work of art. What
originally served as a mirror of contemporary society, now allows
us a scrap book view of the early 1970's.
The invention of the collage ca be traced
back to Picasso and Cubism. Picasso frequently included fragments
of newspapers, some of which were the actual paper and some
of which were drawn or painted imitations. Rauschenberg approached
the medium in a different way and used technological advances
to his advantages. He used photo silkscreen and was able to
mass produce the series. This technique also allowed him more
manipulation with the newspaper: he superimposed, reversed and
placed the articles at various angles to make them more difficult
to understand. One must examine the various pieces separately,
but the image should be taken as a whole- whole which assaults
the visual senses. Rauschenberg added to the confusion by applying
a large moire pattern in the silkscreen, thus creating further
areas of dark and light, tension and space.
Unlike Picasso's Cubist works most of
this print's fragments are easily identifiable and many of the
articles are legible. We are not so far removed from the newspaper
that we ever see it as anything but a newspaper. These Prints
are planes full of words, images, and messages that most likely
would have gone unnoticed and forgotten had Rauschenberg not
chosen to clip them and immortalize them in his work.
The series includes "Features from Currents" - #55 through #80 and "Surface Series from Currents," #37 through #54.
Robert Rauschenberg Gallery
Features from Currents was completed in 1970, in an edition of 50.
Surface Series from Currents was completed in 1970, in an edition of 100.