About this artwork
Robert Rauschenberg’s fascination with methods and materials led to numerous experiments that pushed the boundaries of a wide range of media, including painting, sculpture, photography, printmaking, and drawing. Along with fellow artist Jasper Johns, Rauschenberg charted a viable path out of Abstract Expressionism, the predominant artistic practice when he emerged during the 1950s.
Rauschenberg is best known for the Combine, a painting-sculpture hybrid that integrated humble objects, ephemeral materials, and found images into works that bridge what he called “the gap between art and life.” Untitled is an early work from this seminal series. A sock, a postcard, and an army-flare parachute are among the used and discarded remnants of everyday life held in balance by the expressive brush-strokes and spatters of paint. Echoing this application, the strings of the parachute drip like paint from the canvas, forming a catenary, the curve imposed by the force of gravity on a string suspended freely from two points. With this rupture of the picture plane, the fictive space of the artwork’s surface engages the actual space occupied by the viewer.
- Robert Rauschenberg
- United States
- Made 1950–1960
- Oil, house paint, paper, fabric, and printed reproductions, with sock and parachute on canvas
- 172.7 × 139.7 cm (68 × 55 in.)
- Gift of Edlis Neeson Collection
- © Robert Rauschenberg Foundation.