It is perhaps unfair to call Rauschenberg a spoiled/rich-man’s version Bruce Conner, but that’s what I’m left feeling after viewing the extensive retrospective at SFMOMA. A friend said it made him feel melancholy to view the vast production of art over many decades, culminating in Rauschenberg’s purchasing of an island in Florida—the feeling comes from sadness that this type of life no longer seems possible, to stumble into making art as a twenty-something of no means, travel the world, brainstorm with the most creative minds at Black Mountain, to end up almost printing money by being the art world darling.
The book was put together for the MOMA show that is now in SF and offers a chance to get up close and personal with the work in a way that is impossible when you’re elbowing others out of your viewing space. But it cannot possibly convey the magic of the sound sculptures, the burbling of the Mud Muse, the quirky clips from Pelican and Linoleum.
I’m left wanting to know more about Josef Albers time at Black Mountain College because of this statement he made in 1929 back in Germany while working at the Bauhaus:
First we seek contact with material… Instead of pasting it, we will put paper together by sewing, buttoning, riveting, typing, and pinning it; in other words we fasten it in a multitude of ways. We will test the possibilities of its tensile and compression-resistant strength. In doing so, we do not always create ‘works of art’ but rather experiments; it is not our ambition to fill museums; we are gathering experience.