Working on a huge scale, his works cover painting and collage to dance, and moving pieces. Despite the size of his body of work, I wasn’t aware of Rauschenberg before. Even his apparently iconic collage works featuring JFK and the space race were lost on me.
Time was a motif in his work too, literally embedding an alarm clock into one canvas until the clock rang and told him the piece was complete.
His works deal in colour and scale. They’re not small pieces, and neither are they dull. In the dance works their vibrancy comes through the movement, even if I’m not a fan of watching dance on a screen.
There’s a feel of urgency and the present in his work, and a commentary on a time. But the present he articulates is a time passed. The world has moved on since the Kennedy’s and the space race (even in his lifetime – he was using JFK in his work before the president was assassinated).
As his career progressed, his work looks more into how movement is important. Art is not simply static. Mud Muse, a bubbling vat of chocolately brown mud, was strangely therapeutic, listening to the gurgles and pops. I do like moving artworks, I like the challenge against works being stationery.
Some of the piece did jar on me slightly, see the umbrellas below. But it is an interesting, insightful exhibition into an artist I otherwise knew nothing about.
As the works of the ‘modern’ artists slips further away back into time, and mid-20th century works are over half a century old, it’s time we start paying more attention to these works.