Grand Rapids Art Museum presents Robert Rauschenberg exhibitions

Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM) hosts three distinct exhibitions celebrating the work of American artist Robert Rauschenberg, providing a rich introduction to the defining aspects of Rauschenberg’s art.

Rauschenberg in Context and Rauschenberg at Gemini will be on view February 3 – May 20, 2012. Robert Rauschenberg: Synapsis Shuffle begins March 3, and runs until May 20, 2012.

Robert Rauschenberg
Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008) was one of the most important American artists of the twentieth century. He worked in a broad range of media as a painter, sculptor, printmaker, draftsman (drawing), photographer, performance artist, choreographer, and theater designer.
In each of these media, Rauschenberg made innovative use of materials that led to radical new formats—the early “combines,” mixing painting and ordinary objects like a chair, radio, or taxidermied goat; the silkscreen paintings with their transfer of photographic imagery to the canvas; and, the use of electronics and other means to create participatory works of art that prompt audience interaction.
A chronicler of contemporary life, particularly the American experience, Rauschenberg’s great themes were the city, technology, multiculturalism, and the environment. The provocative and poetic collisions of images, things, and ideas in Rauschenberg’s art are layered with personal reflections on the social, political, and cultural currents of our time.

Rauschenberg in Context
February 3 – May 20, 2012
This exhibition displays works by other, related artists to examine where Rauschenberg fits within the history of twentieth-century American art.
Rauschenberg came of age as an artist during the late 1940s and 1950s, during the development of Abstract Expressionism in New York City. Works by artist Robert Motherwell and others are presented that exemplify this period and its style, incorporating the personal and spontaneous gesture of the brush.

View works that incorporate the Dada and Surrealism roots of chance and accident—a strong influence on Rauschenberg’s work. View a work of art by Marcel Duchamp, known for utilizing found objects, of which were later very important to Rauschenberg’s art.

In his use of personal gesture, chance, accident, and the found object, Rauschenberg expands upon precedents set by other artists. In Rauschenberg’s incorporation and celebration of the commonplace and popular culture, he parallels the early art of Jasper Johns and anticipates in the late 1950s and early 1960s the advent of Pop art.

Rauschenberg at Gemini
February 3 – May 20, 2012
View works from Rauschenberg’s printmaking career, which began in the early 1960s and continued into the early twenty-first century. Many of his prints were produced at Gemini G.E.L., the world-famous publishing workshop of prints and multiples in Los Angeles, California.
Rauschenberg’s prints pushed the boundaries of what printmaking could be. By collaborating with Gemini’s printers over a 30-year period, he produced more than 250 editioned works of art that deviated from typical prints in scale, by incorporating unconventional materials such as textiles and light, and by changing how the viewer could interact with the resulting work of art.
Many of Rauschenberg’s most famous prints, print series, and multiples are included in this exhibition. View the Stoned Moon Series, which documents the American space program leading to the Apollo 11 mission; the Tibetan Keys and Locks, Samarkand Stitches, and Marrakech series, which demonstrate the artist’s commitment to multiculturalism and international cooperation; and the famous limited edition lithograph and poster that announced the first Earth Day in 1970.

Robert Rauschenberg: Synapsis Shuffle
March 3 – May 20, 2012 Synapsis Shuffle has been exhibited in only two other cities in the world—New York and Paris— before arriving in Grand Rapids.

This exhibition consists of 52 large-scale panels, and is a monumental participatory work that incorporates chance and performance, hallmarks of Rauschenberg’s art. Each of the 52 panels is a collage of images taken from photographs the artist took during his global travels. The title of the work and the number of paintings refer to a deck of cards, a clever signal of the work’s installation method: each time the panels of Synapsis Shuffle are presented, they are meant to be “shuffled” by event participants, in displays of no more than seven and no fewer than three.
GRAM will organize a Grand Rapids event and “deal out a hand” to the event participants, where the panels will be shuffled into a unique exhibition. The event will be filmed and available for viewing after the event. The Synapsis Shuffle exhibition will continue through May 20, 2012.
Throughout the course of the exhibitions, guests can enhance their experience by attending diverse weekly programming focusing on Rauschenberg. From lectures, films, drop-in Docent-led tours, gallery talks, and a special Merce Cunningham-inspired dance performance, there are a variety of ways to engage with Rauschenberg’s works and learn more about this innovative American artist.

The mission of the Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM) is: to inspire discovery, enjoyment, and learning about art; to serve as a welcoming and inclusive cultural resource; to collect, conserve, and interpret works of art of the finest quality. Established in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids, the new Art Museum is internationally known for its distinguished design and LEED Gold certified status. Established in 1910 as the Grand Rapids Art Association, GRAM has grown to include more than 5,000 works of art, including American and European 19th and 20th century painting and sculpture and more than 3,500 works on paper. Embracing the city’s legacy as a leading center of design and manufacturing, GRAM has a growing collection in the area of design and modern craft. –

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