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The Role of Los Angeles in Robert Rauschenberg's Artistic Production

  • Robert Rauschenberg - Los Angeles, California, 1981.
  • Robert Rauschenberg - Los Angeles, California, 1981
  • Los Angeles, California, 1981
  • Robert Rauschenberg - Los Angeles, California, 1981
  • Booster, 1967, L.A. Uncovered #4, 1998
August 7, 2018
A philosophy graduate interested in theory, politics and art. Alias of Jelena Martinović.

Radically blending materials and methods, Robert Rauschenberg is considered one of the most influential American artists whose role was crucial in the transition from Abstract Expressionism to later modern movements. Prone to experimentation and cross-cultural exchange, he continuously expanded the boundaries of art, inspiring generations of future art-makers.

The work of Robert Rauschenberg will be the subjects of two separate exhibitions at LACMA. Titled Rauschenberg: In and About L.A., the first show on view will explore L.A.’s indelible impact on his creative output. The succeeding one, Rauschenberg: The 1/4 Mile, will feature his monumental work The 1/4 Mile or 2 Furlong Piece which was created over 17 years.

Los Angeles, California, 1981
Left and Right: Robert Rauschenberg – Los Angeles, California, 1981. Gelatin silver print, 19 × 13 in. Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, © Robert Rauschenberg Foundation

Rauschenberg: In and About L.A.

The city of Los Angeles played a pivotal role in the work of Robert Rauschenberg. Some of his most groundbreaking work was created in the city, from participation in LACMA’s Art and Technology program to enduring partnerships with L.A. print workshops Gemini G.E.L. and Styria Studio.

He also created a series of compelling photographs of Los Angeles for his In + Out City Limits project from 1981. He explained it was not his intent to document, moralize or editorialize the cities he was photographing but described his images as “a collection of selected provocative facts (at least to me) that are the results of my happening to be there.”

In Rauschenberg: In and About L.A., the audience will have a unique opportunity to see a comprehensive selection of works the artist created, as the title suggests, in and about the City of Angels.

Rodeo Palace (Spread), 1975-76
Robert Rauschenberg – Rodeo Palace (Spread), 1975-76. Solvent transfer, pencil, and ink on fabric and cardboard, with wood doors, fabric, metal, rope, and pillow, mounted on foamcore and redwood supports, 144 × 192 × 5 1/2 in. Collection of Lyn and Norman Lear, Los Angeles, © Robert Rauschenberg Foundation

Rauschenberg: The 1/4 Mile

The exhibition Rauschenberg: The 1/4 Mile will for the first time present Rauschenberg’s monumental The 1/4 Mile or 2 Furlong Piece in its entirety. Created over the course of 17 years, between 1981 and 1998, the work is not a series, but rather a serial work.

Comprised of 190 panels that all together measure approximately a quarter mile in length, it combines an array of different materials such as textiles, mass media images, audio of ambient street sounds recorded during his travels and his photographs, all intertwined with bold passages of paint and everyday objects such as chairs, cardboard boxes, and traffic lights which add sculptural depth.

Recalling both past series from his oeuvre and reflecting contemporary trends in his art, the work itself serves as a self-contained retrospective of his oeuvre.

L.A. Uncovered #1, 1998, L.A. Uncovered #11, 1998
Left: Robert Rauschenberg – L.A. Uncovered #1, 1998. Color screenprint, 20 1/2 × 20 1/4 in. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, gift of the artist and Gemini G.E.L, © Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, photo © Museum Associates/ LACMA / Right: Robert Rauschenberg – L.A. Uncovered #11, 1998. Color screenprint, 30 7/8 × 22 3/4 in. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, gift of the artist and Gemini G.E.L. © Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, photo © Museum Associates/LACMA

Robert Rauschenberg Exhibitions in LACMA

The exhibition Rauschenberg: In and About L.A. will be on view at LACMA‘s Resnick Pavilion in Los Angeles from August 11th, 2018 until February 10th, 2019, while the exhibition Rauschenberg: The 1/4 Mile will be on view from October 28th, 2018 until June 9th, 2019.

Featured images: Robert Rauschenberg – Los Angeles, California, 1981. Gelatin silver print, 19 × 13 in. Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, © Robert Rauschenberg Foundation; Left: Booster, 1967. Color lithograph and screenprint, 72 × 36 in. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, gift of the Times Mirror Company © Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, photo © Museum Associates/LACMA / Right: L.A. Uncovered #4, 1998. Color screenprint, 22 1/4 x 20 1/4 in. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, gift of the artist and Gemini G.E.L. © Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, photo © Museum Associates/ LACMA. All images courtesy of LACMA.