Whilst I was aware of Rauschenberg and his work before I visited this exhibition I knew very little about him and his influence on other artists. I had seen his work in a previous exhibition at the Barbican when some pieces were included in a show which was concerned with the the work and influence of Marcel Duchamp. I don’t think that his work could have had too much effect on me as I can’t recall much about it (unlike Duchamp where I remember many of the work displayed).
So I went to the Tate Modern exhibition not expecting to be greatly impressed but hoping to find out more about the artist. What I found was absolutely stunning, I had no idea of the range of Rauschenberg’s work nor the huge creative range of his work. Writing in The Telegraph, Louisa Buckingham believes that “this once-in-a-lifetime survey surpasses all expectations, charting six decades of trailblazing creativity with an abundance of astonishing works brought together in a display that will probably never travel again”.
The exhibition was very well laid out, taking the visitor through the development of his work over the years in a way that emphasised the sheer scale of his creativity. As Adrian Searle said in The Guardian “The exhibition moves through a life and career at a gathering pace, from the early 1950’s to the artist’s death in 2008. Room after room arrest us with yet another creative swerve, a shift in medium, scale, formal attack and presence”.
Rauschenberg’s work needs to be seen ‘in the flesh’, if you see a photograph of Monogram it may strike you as strange and leave you wondering what it is all about. But when you see it in a gallery (even if it is encased in a Perspex box) you are left wondering at the detail in the work (helped by the gallery notes explaining the amount of planning that went into it).
The exhibition leaves you in awe of the scale of Rauschenberg’s creativity, soon after Monogram you experience Mud Bath, a vast pool of liquid mud which bubbles and churns in response to the sound it makes!
The scope of the work is huge as is the range of materials that he used. Having entered the exhibition knowing just a little about Rauschenberg’s work I came away hugely impressed with his creativity and the sheer scale of his imagination.
There is a good summary of Rauschenberg’s work at http://www.radford.edu/rbarris/art428/art427/Rauschenberg.html but I bought the Phaidon Book on him at the Tate Store so I will be learning a lot more detail about his work.