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PRINT March 2006

Yve-Alain Bois

There is some disagreement among Robert Rauschenberg aficionados as to when exactly the great Combine episode began. Was it with the “Red Paintings” exhibited at the Egan Gallery in New York in December 1954? Or with the strictly contemporary construction Minutiae, not included in the Egan show for the simple reason that it was in use at the time as a stage prop by Merce Cunningham’s dance company? The remarkable exhibition “Robert Rauschenberg: Combines,” organized by Paul Schimmel of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and currently on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and its catalogue offer divergent answers: The first major work in the book is Untitled, 1954, a “Red Painting” that is absent at the Met, where instead it is Minutiae that greets visitors. Both answers are fitting, as we shall see, yet the choice of the latter work for the entrance is more in

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