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65

Robert Rauschenberg

Untitled (Galvanic Suite)

Estimate:

50,000 - 70,000 USD

Robert Rauschenberg

Robert Rauschenberg

Untitled (Galvanic Suite)

Untitled (Galvanic Suite)

Estimate:

50,000 - 70,000 USD

Lot sold:

201,600

USD

Robert Rauschenberg

1925 - 2008

Untitled (Galvanic Suite)


signed and dated 89; numbered 89.36 on the reverse

silkscreen ink, acrylic and enamel on galvanized steel

Steel: 48 by 36 in. (121.9 by 91.4 cm.)

Framed: 48¾ by 36¾ in. (123.8 by 93.3 cm.)

This work is in very good condition overall. There are tonal and textural variations to the surface, including scattered areas of stray media, inherent to the artist's working method and chosen media. There is a fine layer of surface dust present, visible upon close inspection. There are scattered areas of minute pinpoint accretions, visible upon close inspection. Framed without glazing.


The lot is sold in the condition it is in at the time of sale. The condition report is provided to assist you with assessing the condition of the lot and is for guidance only. Any reference to condition in the condition report for the lot does not amount to a full description of condition. The images of the lot form part of the condition report for the lot. Certain images of the lot provided online may not accurately reflect the actual condition of the lot. In particular, the online images may represent colors and shades which are different to the lot's actual color and shades. The condition report for the lot may make reference to particular imperfections of the lot but you should note that the lot may have other faults not expressly referred to in the condition report for the lot or shown in the online images of the lot. The condition report may not refer to all faults, restoration, alteration or adaptation. The condition report is a statement of opinion only. For that reason, the condition report is not an alternative to taking your own professional advice regarding the condition of the lot. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS ONLINE CONDITION REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE/BUSINESS APPLICABLE TO THE RESPECTIVE SALE.

Private Collection (gift of the artist)

Private Collection, San Francisco

Private Collection, Arizona

Pace Wildenstein, New York

Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2002

New York, Pace Wildenstein, Happy New Year!, January - February 2002

“[Art should be] an affirmation of life – not an attempt to bring order out of chaos nor to suggest improvements in creation, but simply to wake up to the very life we’re living.”[1] – John Cage


In the late 1980s, Robert Rauschenberg finally returned to the silkscreen, a medium that he had not used since his seminal Silkscreen Paintings of the 1960s. Executed in 1989, Untitled belongs to Rauschenberg’s Galvanic Suite (1988-1991) whose name comes from Rauschenberg’s decision to work on galvanized steel. Unlike the Silkscreen Paintings of the ‘60s, in this series, Rauschenberg uses his own photography instead of appropriated images for the silkscreens. However, Rauschenberg’s signature juxtaposition of diverse, mechanically reproduced imagery and gestural brushwork places Untitled squarely within his singular oeuvre. Rauschenberg explains, “My fascination with images … is based on the complex interlocking of disparate visual facts … that have no respect for grammar.”[2] In this way, Rauschenberg forces the viewer to hazard a reading of the unreadable – of extreme and often mystifying combinations of imagery.


Rauschenberg, who always preserves an unreconcilable ambiguity in his works, believes in the fundamental importance of the viewer’s act of looking. In Untitled, interpretations might range from the threat of modernity to the role of art, but it remains the viewer’s responsibility to decide the meaning of this work. The work of art, for Rauschenberg, is always in flux, evolving with its viewer, whose interpretations continuously renew it. Rauschenberg argues that “Painting relates to both art and life. Neither can be made. (I try to act in that gap between the two.)”[3] Rauschenberg, who famously worked with his TV blaring, reflects life as it exists back at the viewer in a way that mirrors the non-stop bombardment of media images. In Untitled, we see the world in its fragmentation and with its absurd contradictions. A young donkey, frozen in motion beneath a looming satellite tower, charges ahead at a wall of green and silver stripes that seems to have wandered out of one of Daniel Buren’s minimalist frescoes. The collision of these disparate elements defamiliarizes the world. As Rauschenberg’s long-time friend John Cage says, this jarring synthesis of imagery rouses us from our slumber. In this moment frozen in time, it is up to the viewer to draw a conclusion.


[1] John Cage, quoted in Mary Lunn Kotz, “Rauschenberg/Art and Life” (Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York, 1990), 89.

[2] Robert Rauschenberg, “Note on Painting,” October 31 – November 2, 1963; quoted in Francis Naumann, “Robert Rauschenberg: Urban Bourbons and Night Shades,” in Robert Rauschenberg: NIGHT Shades & URBAN Bourbons, exh. cat., Galerie Beyeler, Basel, 1995, 14.

[3] Robert Rauschenberg, quoted in Kotz, “Rauschenberg/Art and Life,” 89.