Rauschenberg's collection of old photographs of family and friends, many of which he took himself, was the starting point for his Ruminations
series from 1999. The print entitled 'topher features images of the artist, his former wife Susan Weil, and their son Christopher
as a young boy. The images were transferred onto photosensitized
metal plates and reconstituted by brushing on photographic developer in broad, painterly strokes. The vigorous mark-making and limited tonal palette that characterized Rauschenberg's early work is reprised here with a striking innovation: whereas the early prints featured gestural marks interspersed with photographic images, the new process allows the mark and image to merge as one. The Ruminations
project shows Rauschenberg at his most meditative.
Throughout his career Rauschenberg has been quick to adopt new materials and methods, and he relishes the medium's unpredictability.
To his mind, the technical and mechanical aspects of printmaking afford him a healthy distance from the process, allowing for spontaneous interventions. In addition, he recognizes the power of printmaking to reach broad audiences with multiple impressions. Rauschenberg continues to reach out to the world and let the world in, offering us matchless opportunities to appreciate its strange and unforeseen beauty.
Ruminations: 'topher, 1999
Published by Universal Limited Art Editions, Bay Shore, New York
National Gallery of Art, Gift of the Collectors Committee, 2002