Monday, April 30, 2012

Going to Gauguin and finding Rauschenberg

They say life is what happens when you're making other plans. Perhaps this is also true when visiting an art museum to see a much anticipated special exhibit, and instead find yourself captivated by another, much smaller, lesser known exhibit. Last Friday, I was finally in the Seattle Art Museum, walking up the steps to the "Gauguin in Polynesia" exhibit, and there it was -- a small set of cardboard collages along the wall -- large, irregular shaped collages made of cardboard, like this:

Since I was intent on getting into the Gauguin exhibit on time, I didn't bother to read much information about these collages, though the date (1971) made an impression on me. After a bit of research, I'm almost certain they are part of the Robert Rauschenberg Cardboard series. I have to admit, I didn't know anything about Rauschenberg before this, but I've since learned that he used materials that he collected all around him in daily life to use in his art, often using discarded items, such as the old cardboard boxes used to make these collages. My first reaction when I saw them was almost to laugh and wonder why I am working so hard with my collages, using paint and other media, wondering how they can be framed, when all I'd really have to do is this. But of course, this has already been done, quite some time ago, by Rauschenberg. And, thanks to Rauschenberg, at least in part, it is acceptable for artists to use everyday "ephemera" in our artwork. And I have to admit, I really like these collages. They illustrate that even the most humble, everyday sort of object can have beauty. 

The Gauguin exhibit was wonderful, and perhaps I will think of something to write about that later. In the meantime, you can find me at the recycling bin, looking for my next collage inspiration. 


  1. That is really something! I did not know about this before now - thank you for blogging about it, xo

  2. Isn't it amazing how inspiration strikes!! Its a question of seeing with 'new' eyes , I think. Here's to seeing eyes!!

  3. I too learned something new from your post. Cardboard and art didn't quite ever capture my imagination but now I see it. We live with these boxes and cardboard / paper items all around us..Those things were useful for something to be inside of then we throw them away. Actually those cardboard items were once a living tree amazing to think of all we do to our living things then we kill them then we try to bring them back to life or to give them a feeling again. Makes you think (Too Much...)
    - KAT -

  4. This really humbled me... my children love to cut/tear up cardboard boxes and "make art." But the little bits of brown shreds that end up EVERYWHERE (and belongs to nobody of course) has been driving me NUTS! SO I have not really been paying much attention to their creations, for I have been paying more attention to the broom. I think I should lighten up and join them instead!:-)

    1. Thanks so much for your comments! It does really make you think, doesn't it? I have to think Rauschenberg was poking fun at what was considered to be serious art. It's pretty audacious to take trash, glue it together and call it art. You could use all of those cardboard bits in collage. Since I've started doing collage, I look twice at every piece of garbage and recycling!!

  5. Great post, I found something similar (well not the collages) but went to the Brisbane gallery to see a Matisse sketching exhibit but enjoyed & found the Aussie contemporary portraits more interesting... but still loved Matisse!!!