image: Let the World In: Prints by Robert Rauschenberg from the National Gallery of Art and Related Collections

Image: Introduction
Image: Accident
Image: Technology and the News
Image: Challenging Standards
Image: Cultural Interchange
Image: Masterpieces from Venice to L.A.
Image: Ruminations

Beginning in the early 1960s, Robert Rauschenberg (American, born 1925) created painterly prints filled with images he clipped from newspapers and magazines. Nearly a decade earlier he had countered the introspective canvases of abstract expressionism with works he called "Combines," fusions of painting and sculpture that incorporate everyday items and embrace the cacophony of daily life. Rauschenberg's prints likewise introduced the commonplace in varied forms—a water ring left by a drinking glass, an embossment from a coin, or the traced outline of a walking cane. The artist's welcoming of representation back into the avant-garde restored a potent visual vocabulary. As art historian Leo Steinberg noted, "What he invented above all was...a pictorial surface that let the world in again."

Rauschenberg's open-ended approach helped steer fine art print studios in new directions. Working collaboratively with talented printers, he challenged the limits of methods and materials: rethinking customary approaches to lithography, screenprint, and intaglio; adopting new processes such as digital imaging; and printing on unconventional papers, cardboard, fabric, and plastic. Rauschenberg's foray into printmaking was a seemingly natural development, for imprinting—the very essence of printmaking—had long played a role in his work, in the form of fingerprints impressed in his paintings and magazine images transferred to drawings. Publisher Tatyana Grosman of Universal Limited Art Editions (ULAE) on Long Island, New York, was the first to invite Rauschenberg to make prints. He accepted the invitation in 1962, and his relationship with that atelier continues to the present.

Image: National Gallery of Art; October 28, 2007 to March 30, 2008
Soviet/American Array III, 1988
Published by Universal Limited Art
Editions, Bay Shore, New York
National Gallery of Art, Gift of Universal
Limited Art Editions and the Artist, 1991

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