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

Challenging Standards
Rauschenberg moved to a Gulf Coast home in Captiva, Florida, in the early 1970s and established his own print facility, Untitled Press. He also began working with a print shop a hundred miles to the north, Tampa's Graphicstudio U.S.F. (University of South Florida). The artist's Airport Series, published by Graphicstudio in 1974, was printed in Rauschenberg's Captiva shop. The series title derives from an incidental event—that is, as a matter of convenience he signed the edition at a Tampa airport hotel. Cat Paws from the series challenges the modern printmaking standard that all prints in a given edition are identical: each print's fabric supports, with different sheens and textures and varying capacities to absorb ink and with unique folds and frayed threads, caused variations from impression to impression—variations that were anticipated and encouraged by the artist. Rauschenberg also attached actual bottle caps to the individual prints, furthering each one's uniqueness.

Image: Hoarfrost Editions: Preview, 1974In the series Hoarfrost Editions, printed and published in 1974 by Gemini G.E.L., Rauschenberg extended the notion of variability. The series title refers to the crystalline coating of ice called hoarfrost and evokes the prints' delicacy. Preview features images of a Greek sculpture flanked by two vintage automobiles, icons of different eras. For this print and others in the series, Rauschenberg selected photographs from magazines and newspapers that were enlarged and transferred as images to various fabrics. Subsequently, crumpled newspapers dampened with solvent were placed on top of the printed cloth and run through the press under extreme pressure so that the newspaper ink transferred irregularly and uniquely to each print. Sewn in overlapping layers, the plain-weave textiles — cheesecloth, muslin, silk chiffon, silk crêpe, and silk taffeta — function like multilayer pictures, allowing for alternative readings as the viewer moves or the fabrics shift in response to the slightest breeze.

Image: National Gallery of Art; October 28, 2007 to March 30, 2008
Airport Series: Cat Paws, 1974
relief and intaglio with collage on fabric
Published by Graphicstudio U.S.F,
Tampa, Florida
National Gallery of Art,
Gift of Graphicstudio/University of South Florida and the Artist, 1986

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