robert rauschenberg foundation

Erased de Kooning Drawing

What do you need to transform a de Kooning into a Rauschenberg? 1 month and 40 erasers.

In 1953, Rauschenberg asked artist Willem de Kooning, an Abstract Expressionist painter whom he admired, for a drawing to erase. De Kooning agreed, selecting a drawing that he thought would be particularly difficult to rub out. Rauschenberg claimed that it took him a month, and about 40 erasers, to complete the job. He kept the erased drawing in his studio for two years. In 1955, when he was invited to submit a drawing to show at the Elinor Poindexter Gallery, Jasper Johns persuaded him to exhibit it. Johns placed the drawing in a gold frame and produced the work’s inscription.

See more Rauschenberg: Among Friends collaborations at mo.ma/2s54Npr.

[Robert Rauschenberg with Willem de Kooning and Jasper Johns. Erased de Kooning Drawing. 1953. A de Kooning drawing, graphite, and other media on paper, erased by Rauschenberg and mounted in a gilded wood frame with label inscribed using a metal template in blue ink on paper by Jasper Johns. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Purchase through a gift of Phyllis C. Wattis. Photo: Ben Blackwell. © 2017 Robert Rauschenberg Foundation]

Rauschenberg and the Art of Collaboration: The Moon Museum

When Apollo 12 landed on the moon in 1969, it may have been carrying an edition of this artwork.

Forrest Myers, a member of Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.), invited Rauschenberg, (one of the founding members of E.A.T.) and five other artists to make drawings, which were etched by scientists at Bell Laboratories onto tiny wafer-thin iridium-plated ceramic chips. When NASA didn’t respond to Myers’s request, Bell Labs scientist Fred Waldhauer asked an engineer to help. According to Waldhauer, one copy of the chip was covertly attached to the leg of the lunar lander.

In addition to Rauschenberg’s straight line, there is a Mickey Mouse–like figure by Claes Oldenburg, stylized initials by Andy Warhol (“He was being the terrible bad boy,” said Forrest Myers in an interview), a black square by David Novros, a computer-generated drawing by Myers, and a circuit-like diagram by John Chamberlain. 

See more Rauschenberg: Among Friends collaborations at mo.ma/2s54Npr

[John Chamberlain, Forrest Myers, David Novros, Claes Oldenburg, Robert Rauschenberg, and Andy Warhol with Fred Walhauer. “The Moon Museum.” 1969. Lithograph of tantalum nitride film on ceramic wafer. Publisher: Forrest Myers. Fabricator: Bell Laboratories, Murray Hill, New Jersey. Edition: c. 40. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Ruth Waldhauer. Photo: Peter Butler. © 2017 Robert Rauschenberg Foundation]

Money Thrower for Tinguely’s H.T.N.Y.

Rauschenberg contributed this work to the artist Jean Tinguely’s performance “Homage to New York,” which took place in MoMA’s Sculpture Garden on March 17, 1960. The event featured a monumental kinetic sculpture—a “suicide machine"—designed by Tinguely, with the help of Bell Laboratories engineer Billy Klüver, to implode with the push of a button. Rauschenberg contributed his own kinetic sculpture: a small electric heater that was ignited by gunpowder in the seventh minute of the performance, producing a flash of light and releasing a dozen silver dollars that spewed out into the audience.

See more collaborations at mo.ma/2s54Npr.


[Robert Rauschenberg. Money Thrower for Tinguely’s H.T.N.Y. 1960. Electric heater with gun powder, metal springs, twine, and silver dollars. Moderna Museet, Stockholm. Gift of Pontus Hultén. © 2017 Robert Rauschenberg Foundation]

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Robert Rauschenberg. Thirty-Four Illustrations for Dante’s Inferno. Canto XIV: Circle Seven, The Violent Against God, Nature, and Art, Canto I: The Dark Wood of Error, Canto II: The Descent, Canto IX: Circle Six, The Heretics, Canto XVI: Circle Seven, The Violent Against Nature and Art, Canto XXIII: Circle Eight, The Hypocrites, Canto XXXI: The Central Pit of Malebolge, The Giants (top to bottom). 1958-60.

16 Americans | MoMA

Robert Rauschenberg was born on this day in 1925. Here you can see his work as it was displayed in the iconic MoMA exhibition 16 Americans in 1959. If you’re a fan of his art, follow the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation on social media and begin planning your trip to New York for our upcoming Rauschenberg retrospective May 21–September 17, 2017. 

(via 16 Americans | MoMA)

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Today would have been Rauschenberg’s 90th birthday. From the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Archives, here are a few of our favorite birthday cards sent over the years by friends and family: Cy Twombly (2006), James Dean of NASA (1984), Bob Petersen (1982), Dora Rauschenberg (undated), Gemini G.E.L. (1994), Marian Javits (1990), and an unidentified Roberta (1968).

I don’t insist on contemporary artists being politically active but they ought to be politically conscious. And if I could be that blunt, I think the art market has been the biggest factor in determining art movements for the past decade or so; and the money involved has seduced galleries, collectors and artists to becoming super rich and very, very distanced from sociopolitical issues; art has basically become a commodity and about entertainment.

Being Iranian came as a mixed blessing of course, because Iranian artists paid a great price, having to live in exile and being censored. You really have to suffer for what you do, but I have to say that I have not become just pure commodity and my work has been effective and has been heard by non-art people from my community and that gives me a lot of pride. So I do criticize the art world and the artist today and think that this was not the case before.

That’s why I’m so proud to be apart of the Family of the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation because as a Western artist he definitely has a legacy in being politically conscious and an advocate for helping with different causes from education, to AIDS, to government, to asking for democracy. And it doesn’t mean that you don’t make highly aesthetic works but it still means that you should be engaged. I’m not saying that people shouldn’t be painting landscapes and things that aren’t completely outside of political reality but I think it’s important to be engaged.

—  Shirin Neshat