Rauschenberg's embrace of the unexpected and his adeptness at turning chance to an advantage are underscored in his early ULAE print Accident. He produced only a handful of impressions before the lithographic stone broke in the course of printing. Rather than start again on another stone, he welcomed the rupture — visible as the long diagonal crack that bisects the final edition impression — and further embellished the image with scavenged limestone chips inked and printed in the lower margin. By titling the work Accident, Rauschenberg drew attention to the eccentric act of printing from a broken stone. By granting status to a random act, he was adapting strategies comparable to those of his colleague, the composer John Cage, who incorporated random tones and intervals into his musical compositions. When published, Accident garnered first prize in a major international print competition and brought unprecedented attention to an artist and atelier from the United States.
Published by Universal Limited Art Editions, West Islip, New York
National Gallery of Art,
Gift of the Woodward Foundation, Washington, DC, 1976