PRINT September 1997


In one of the essays that follow, Dave Hickey invites us to imagine the ’50s and ’60s without Robert Rauschenberg. His point: it’s not easy to do. When an artist’s work is so inseparably a part of the times, it’s difficult to recall the “becoming”—to remember that just as our understanding of the period is indivisible from the artist’s response to it, the self-evidence of his or her achievement is inevitably the sum of all we have said of the artist and the work. As a full-scale retrospective of Rauschenberg’s art opens this month at both New York branches of the Guggenheim Museum, Thomas Crow looks back at the history of these responses, offering an account of the accruing texture of resistances and eventual accommodations that have greeted the work—of how, in short, a “youthful transplant from the South” became Rauschenberg. Three additional writers, Dore Ashton, Yve-Alain Bois, and Dave Hickey, offer their thoughts in anticipation of the show. —EDS