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Robert Rauschenberg: Photographs 1949 - 1962

David White


A superbly produced collection of photographs by one of America’s most important 20th-century artists


This volume gathers and surveys Rauschenberg’s numerous uses of photography for the first time. It includes portraits of friends such as Cy Twombly, Jasper Johns, Willem de Kooning, Merce Cunningham and John Cage, studio shots, photographs used in the Combines series, silkscreens, photographs of lost works and works in progress – allowing us to reimagine almost the entirety of the artist’s work in light of his uses of photography, while also supplying previously unseen glimpses into his social nexus of the 1950s and 60s.

Robert Rauschenberg’s engagement with photography began in the late 1940s during his time at Black Mountain College in North Carolina; for a while he was even unsure whether to pursue painting or photography as a career. Instead he chose both. He found ways to fold photography into his Combines, and maintained a practice of photographing friends and family, documenting the evolution of works and occasionally dramatizing them by inserting himself into the picture frame.

As the distinguished curator Walter Hopps wrote, ‘The use of photography has long been an essential device for Rauschenberg’s melding of imagery… [and] a vital means for Rauschenberg’s aesthetic investigations of how humans perceive, select and combine visual information. Without photography, much of Rauschenberg’s œuvre would scarcely exist.’ The artist himself affirmed, ‘I’ve never stopped being a photographer.’

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'Portraits of friends such as Jasper Johns and Cy Twombly ... extraordinary studies of light and pattern'
Sunday Telegraph

'Essential reading for anyone interested in Rauschenberg’s life and work'
Amateur Photographer

'One of the best books I've seen all year'
Black and White Photography

'A convincing argument for placing this largely unsung facet of Rauschenberg’s talent at the heart of his oeuvre'

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Hardback

Size: 28.0 x 23.9 cm

Extent: 232 pp

Publication date: 19 September 2011

ISBN: 9780500544006

Contents List

Introduction: To Exist in Passing Time by Nicholas Cullinan • Plates • 1. New York I • 2. Black Mountain and the South • 3. Europe – North Africa – Europe • 4. New York II

About the Author

Susan Davidson is Senior Curator, Collections & Exhibitions, at the Solomon R. Guggenheim, and is also aTrustee of the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation.

DavidWhite was the curator for Robert Rauschenberg from 1980 until the artist’s death in 2008, and continues in that capacity with his Estate.

Nicholas Cullinan is Curator of International Modern Art at Tate Modern.

List of Contributors

Susan Davidson, Nicholas Cullinan