Robert Rauchenberg at the Tate Modern is an overwhelming blast of artistic ideas. It is astonishing that one person could produce so much work in so many different areas. Did he ever have a crisis of confidence? The exhibition doesn’t tell us.
One thing that struck me about the exhibition as a whole was that all the art seemed to be manifestations of Rauchenberg’s personality. “his quest for innovation was fired by a boundless curiosity, the joy of working with what was readily available, an enthusiasm for collaboration and a passion for travel” (exhibition notes). The personality of the artist was an important aspect of the work.
I have discovered that virtually all art is much more meaningful experienced in person rather that viewed online or in a book. Rauschenberg is very much an artist of ideas. Was it important to see his work close up? I think it was. There was a physicality about Rauchenberg’s work which I didn’t expect. Looking at his “Combines” – work combining canvas with objects found around his New York neighbourhood – brought home the physicality not only of painting but also of searching for objects and making them into his art.
There was a strong emphasis on collaboration in Rauchenberg’s art especially in the area of performance art, dance and engineering. Open Score involved two tennis players with customised rackets. These contained sensors that triggered bonging sounds and turned lights off when the ball hit them. When the venue was completely dark, 500 people performed a series of actions following instructions prepared by Rauschenberg. They were filmed by infra-red cameras and projected on large screens for the audience, who could not see them otherwise.
It was good to meet fellow OCA students and discuss their reaction to Rauchenberg’s work.
What I take from this exhibition.
- don’t be afraid to experiment
- art materials are all around you
- collaboration is fun
- idea for painting. Take a walk. Every minute pick up an object and store it in order. Paint your impressions of the walk. Incorporate the objects on a grid?