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View of “Gloria: Robert Rauschenberg & Rachel Harrison,” 2015. Foreground: Rachel Harrison, Slipknot (detail), 2002. Background: Robert Rauschenberg, Gloria, 1956.

“Gloria: Robert Rauschenberg & Rachel Harrison”

Cleveland Museum of Art

View of “Gloria: Robert Rauschenberg & Rachel Harrison,” 2015. Foreground: Rachel Harrison, Slipknot (detail), 2002. Background: Robert Rauschenberg, Gloria, 1956.

The choice to exhibit Rachel Harrison’s sculpture/painting hybrids and drawings of the past decade or so alongside Robert Rauschenberg’s Combines of the 1950s and ’60s has elicited resistance from more than a few critics. That resistance, in the opinion of curator Beau Rutland, is knee-jerk, stemming primarily from the notion that the pairing is “almost too good to be true.” And it would be too good to be true, were one to read the works of these artists in only the most basic of formalist and historicist terms. Both Harrison and Rauschenberg harvest the expendable, everyday materials of American consumerism, popular media, and celebrity culture, and incorporate them into the genres of traditionally “high” art: oil painting, statuary, and the like. And while it is also true that the 1956 Rauschenberg piece that gave the exhibition its title could have been made yesterday—with

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