PRINT May 2000


It could be argued that abstraction was the greatest innovation of twentieth-century art. But as much as I admire the pure, nonobjective works of Piet Mondrian and the towering achievements of Barnett Newman, there is nothing I cherish more than the way in which Robert Rauschenberg has brought images of the world back into advanced art. Photography is no doubt the most important visual technology of our time, and from mid-century on it is Rauschenberg, in my opinion, who has most brilliantly brought the camera to the service of painting. His panoplies of photographic images are as complex as the material of our everyday visual experience and, for me, most poignantly define our world and our place within it.

Between 1986 and 1995, Rauschenberg produced a number of series, or families, of paintings on metal: the “Shiners,” 1986–93; the “Urban Bourbons,” 1988–95; the “Borealis,” 1989–92; the

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