previews

Robert Rauschenberg, Lake Placid / Glori-Fried / Yarns from New England (Cardboard), 1971, cardboard, rope, and wood pole, 9' 6 3/4“ x 13' 5” x 8".

Houston

“Robert Rauschenberg: Cardboards and Related Pieces”

The Menil Collection
1533 Sul Ross Street
February 23–May 13

Curated by Josef Helfenstein

Robert Rauschenberg’s Cardboards were one of the most startling and entirely unexpected revelations of his 1997 Guggenheim retrospective. Made between 1971 and 1972, these large, wall-mounted arrangements of partially flattened boxes saw his return to the single-image pictorial mode he had mastered, and then all but abandoned, in Bed, 1955. Despite their obvious deployment of the readymade, the Cardboards engage primarily with Abstract Expressionist scale—a scale that produces the impact of these works and is, needless to say, unappreciable in reproduction. To challenge Barnett Newman with a cardboard box, as Rauschenberg does in Castelli/Small Turtle Bowl (Cardboard), 1971, is a bold move and no doubt only one of many surprises in this exhibition of thirty-six works. The catalogue features essays by curator Josef Helfenstein and by Yve-Alain Bois.