Robert Rauschenberg

Untitled (formerly titled Collage with Horse), 1957

Image for Untitled (formerly titled Collage with Horse), 1957

For Rauschenberg and other young artists impressed by Abstract Expressionism, the New York School’s erasure of hierarchies—the ordering of objects in keeping with everyday visual appearances—was no longer predicated on Pollock’s drips or Bolotowsky’s grid. It could be accomplished more literally by dispersing prefabricated images of popular culture—photographs, printed matter, commercial advertisements—or actual objects along the canvas surface in mutually informing, yet distinctly non-hierarchical, relations. With its series of rectangular planes arranged asymmetrically, this untitled collage of 1957 parodies the hieratic language of geometric abstraction. Looking back to Cubist collages, Rauschenberg includes photographs of a galloping horse and a Dutch group portrait, along with part of a telegram. He defaces the collaged items by painting a tan square over most of the group portrait and adding a series of gestural marks—some elongated or scribbled like childish finger painting, others smeared horizontally with an overloaded brush—and allows the excess paint to drip downward like the trace of uncontrollable passion, an expressive device that he shares with Norman Bluhm.

Medium Oil, plain and printed papers, wood, and fabric on canvas
Credit Line Grey Art Gallery, New York University Art Collection
Donor Gift of Philip Johnson
Object ID 1961.34

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Collection Years: 1957