Gemini G.E.L.: A Catalogue Raisonné, 1966–2005
The creation of Booster (41.9), the centerpiece of Robert Rauschenberg's first major series at Gemini, Booster and 7 Studies (41.1–41.9), dramatically altered notions about an appropriate size for prints. No longer considered intimate album images, they were now recognized as objects with visual power great enough to rival the impact of paintings. Since that venture, the artist has repeatedly challenged an extraordinary range of boundaries ascribed to traditional works of art. Many of his projects at Gemini make each piece virtually unique by incorporating chance variations within the editions. In fact, the artist seems committed to producing work that subverts the basic intention of art in identical editions.
Rauschenberg has completed both two- and three-dimensional works, exploring his experimental ideas within the traditional media of lithography, screenprinting, and etching, as well as within less traditional processes that include collage and various direct transfer methods onto fabrics or paper. His projects have taken Gemini staff to France in 1974 for Pages and Fuses (41.76–41.87), India in 1975 for Bones and Unions (41.97–41.107), and the People's Republic of China in 1982 for "7 Characters" (41.140–41.146), where the artist worked in paper pulp or rag-mud. In 1988, for his ambitious Rauschenberg Overseas Culture Interchange (ROCI) project, he visited Uzbekistan, a voyage which resulted in the Samarkand Stitches (41.182–41.188). For these works Rauschenberg's own photographs were screenprinted onto collages made from fabrics indigenous to Samarkand that were assembled at Gemini. Photographs taken by Rauchenberg on his ROCI Tibet expedition were transferred to wall reliefs and freestanding sculpture for the Tibetan Keys and Locks series (41.171–41.181). Settings closer to home have also spawned rich new imagery. Examples include the photographs of the environs of Los Angeles that became Blue Line Swinger (41.199) or of other landscapes, such as the Florida area where he makes his home, that contribute to works such as his Speculations series. These more recent publications have used sheets of watercolor and handmade paper as supports for his screenprinted photomontages. In places far off or close at hand, Rauschenberg has always focused on indigenous materials and images of distinctive local character. The aim of this unique optic is to present a complex vision of personal memories and dreams while layering his art with widely shared associative meaning.
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