RAUSCHENBERG, Robert

2019.012.001a-c.jpg

Description

Autobiography, 1968
1968
Offset lithograph
66 1/4 x 48 11/16"
Autobiography from 1968 is a monumental and important work in many ways, and provides a classic and important statement by Robert Rauschenberg, arguably one of the most important American artist ever. The offset lithographic triptych records significant aspects of Rauschenbergs life at the age of forty-three, and was produced at a press founded by Rauschenberg, who was always interested in technology. He used a billboard pressthe first fine art print to be produced on this scale and using this printing mechanism. Autobiography begins with a print he had completed the year before at Gemini, Los Angeles: Booster, the x-ray of his own skeleton flanked with a wheel and an umbrella. Superimposed over the skeleton, Rauschenbergs astrological sign, Libra. The middle print includes a photograph of Rauschenberg with his parents on a boatback in Texasand the whorl of text around it references a fingerprint (referring to the self-portrait he sent to the New Yorker in 1964an image of his fingerprint) and consists of his c.v., listing the important events of his life and career. At the top is a listing of his three performances at LACMA. And another reference to waterthis time floating on itand all centered on the smiling face of a very innocent little boy. In the last image, Rauschenberg is performing in Pelican, his first big performance piecefirst done in 1963 in Washington DC. But this photograph is from 1965, in New York, from the First New York Theater Rallyan event that Rauschenberg had helped organize. Along the left is the Manhattan skyline; below are water tanks and above is a slice of a map of Port Arthur, TX, his home town. It is wonderful to note how appropriate that the piece features so prominently this performance, which grew out of Rauschenbergs involvement with Judson Dance Theatre. In this image of Pelican, Rauschenberg is literally skimming over the Gulf waters which lie off the coast of Port Arthur: the image of the map extends down and to the right, the full length of the print. He is sailing or skating or even flying. The imagery refers to where he lives, where he comes from, and combines all the arts. He is a living combine, a form of assemblage that Rauschenberg perfected. Rauschenberg permitted the triptych to be exhibited side-by-side but he preferred seeing it vertically as then the skeleton which has been dematerialized away floats above the other images, lighter than the umbrella and faster than the wheel. The art historian Tom Crow has a beautiful reading of Rauschenbergs imagery as always governed by gravitythe images are concerned with falling, or feeling the tug of the earth. This artwork was purchased with contributions from many community members to honor Professor of Art History and Director Emeritus, E. Bruce Robertson, on the occasion of his retirement. Robertsons longtime admiration for artist Robert Rauschenberg prompted the purchase. This includes Todd Anderson, Chester Battle, Winston Braun, Sue and J.W. Colin, Mehmet Dogu, Michelle Faust, Jocelyn Gibbs, Elyse Gonzales, Leslie Gray, Judi Haskell, Victoria Hendler and David Broom, Stu and Joan Levin, Susan Lucke, Kris Miller-Fisher, John Nava, Charles and Betsy Newman, Silvia Perea and Juan Heras, Paksy Plackis-Cheng, Donald E. Polk and J. Paul Longanbach, Karen Prinzmetal and James West, Ceil and Michael Pulitzer, Sudi Staub, Lisa Thwing, Carol Vernon and Robert Turbin, Sandy and David Wasco, Li Wen

Date

1968

Creator

RAUSCHENBERG, Robert
b. United States, 1925 -2008

Source

Museum purchase in honor of Professor of Art History and Director Emeritus, E. Bruce Robertson

Identifier

2019.012.001a-c

Citation

RAUSCHENBERG, Robert and b. United States, 1925 -2008, “RAUSCHENBERG, Robert,” UCSB ADA Museum Omeka, accessed February 21, 2024, http://art-collections.museum.ucsb.edu/items/show/10290.