Emblematic work of the famous Urban Bourbon series created by Robert Rauschenberg between 1988 and 1996, Chaperone brilliantly illustrates if not only for its exceptional format but also for its expressionist and pop composition as well as its admirable palette of colors enhanced by the use of one of the artist's favorite techniques: the transfer of photographic image on metal, and more specifically, on monumental anodized, polished and varnished aluminum plates, which makes the work so hypnotic.
Rauschenberg has always sought to abolish the frontiers between art and life. Starting in the early 50s, and with his White Paintings in particular, he never stopped questioning the sacrosanct principle of self-expression to create a body of work that reflected the world rather than the personality of a demiurgic artist. While for Jaspers Johns, friend of Rauschenberg, the author of Chaperone is one of the most inventive artists of the 20th century since Picasso, for historian Leo Steinberg "what he invented before all is a pictorial surface open to the world."
Passionate of photography, Rauschenberg hesitated at first between a career as a painter or photographer. With Chaperone, the artist reconciles his two aspirations and created a work that positioned him as a commentator of his society, which he relentlessly documented through images he transcribed in a quite pictorial manner. In Chaperone, the artist confronts not only painting but also photography, advocating for a total art and drawing more and more subtle relationships between abstraction and figuration.
Fine combination of mechanical and craft process, since photography here is mixed with acrylic painting on metal in the pure action painting tradition, Chaperone represents a crucial step toward understanding the approach of this polymath and pioneer artist who profoundly marked the art of the 20th century.
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