Rauschenberg – Tate Modern
I finally got to the Tate Modern to see the Rauschenberg exhibition. What struck me was how to look at the work that has become the iconic 60s images specifically the Combines and silkscreen paintings from the viewpoint of these being “new” and inventive departures from what was going on at the time. In fact I found all these less impact -full than some of his very early “scatole personali” (awkwardly physical). These tiny disintegrating memorabilia reminded me of some of Susan Hiller’s boxes. Heaped in meaning and significance.
But what I hadn’t known about were his collaborations with actors, composers and dancers and the creation of multi-layered theatre pieces. Some of the stage detail and running order scripts are themselves works of art. I have collected a number of snippets from these:-
30 Large Desert Turtles with Torches Strapped to Their Backs –
Spring Training 1965
Rauschenberg and Paxton took turns carrying each other like planks
People were carried around on brightly coloured boards reading out a newspaper backwards – Urban Round
Rauschenberg carried a sack containing a singer who sang an old Spanish song – Open Score 1966
There is something about these suggestions of the live action that bring very strong images to mind.
Rauschenberg’s discovered technique of transferring images onto paper using lighter fluid led to his development of multi-layered series of images of Dante’s Inferno. These amazingly detailed and delicate creations moved me more than anything else in the exhibition. Probably coming across something so very different from the expected was part of it. Also they encapsulate a depth of thought and vision which I didn’t find in the other work. After these I find the silkscreens rather crude and something of the “factory” similar to Warhol’s output. The transfer drawings are intensely personal and the introduction of different materials and techniques intriguing.