Art Bathing Talk - Online Only · One work
Art Bathing
Online Only    One work
Robert Rauschenberg, Untitled (Signal), 1980, Solvent transfer, acrylic, fabric and found comb collage
“I really feel sorry for people who think things like soap dishes or mirrors, or Coke bottles are ugly, because they're surrounded by things like that all day long, and it must make them miserable.” (Robert Rauschenberg)

The Joy of the Unexpected
Objet Trouvé

While strolling on the beach or walking through the forest the joy of finding something unexpected can be an exhilarating experience. Such objects invite and challenge the finder’s imagination as the unexpected can open a door to mental play. The Objet trouvé or found object reveals the multidimensional in the ordinary. A found object can become a source of inspiration, like the bones Henry Moore collected or Andy Warhol’s collection of children’s toys. A found object can also be incorporated in a piece of art, like Louise Nevelson’s Black Wall (1959) that consists of an arrangement of found objects, Robert Rauschenberg’s Combines (1953-64) that combine pieces of rocks, wood and scrap metal or Tony Cragg’s Silicate landscape (1992) that consists of various silicate bottles. And last but not least found objects can become Art, like Marcel Duchamp’s Bottle Rack (1914), Kurt Schwitter’s Merzbau (1923-33) or Tracy Emin’s My bed (1999). The Dada movement but also the surrealists, the Fluxus movement, Pop art and the Young British Artists made all use of found objects to break away from tradition and convention. Each artist commenting on the notion of art and imagination as commodity with their own distinctive style.

Traditionally art is being associated with beauty, value, and status. The objet trouvé invites us to appreciate ordinary things so its use can be interpreted as an act of anarchism that questions these notions by adding a physical element of reality that most of the time is without any measurable value, beauty, or status. Consequentially ordinary objects like chairs, combs, pieces of wood, rock, or metal in art add extra layers of meaning to avoid a direct consumption or interpretation. Found objects ruffle feathers and reveal, if you are willing to see, that there is much more here than meets the eye. They inspire and their inclusion can be interpreted as an act of artistic disobedience raising questions that range from cultural to social to environmental issues. Found objects have the ability to playfully build new ideas with outworn materials.

Detail 1
Detail 2
“I think a painting is more like the real world if it's made out the real world.” (Robert Rauschenberg)

Robert Rauschenberg

From early onwards in his career Pop art pioneer Robert Rauschenberg made use of found objects that he gathered from the neighborhood around his studio. By including the physical world directly into his art Rauschenberg rebelled and challenged his teacher Josef Albers and the artists of the abstract gestural movement, like De Kooning whom according to Rauschenberg did not enough take part in the real world. By famously erasing a Willem De Kooning drawing Rauschenberg intended to erase the traces of tradition and provoke a new way of seeing or rather a more differentiated way of seeing. Contrary to the gestural act of painting that interacted solely with a two-dimensional plane, Rauschenberg let the real world enter his works through the inclusion of found objects and scavenging’s. This commentary in form of a physical object added an element of tension between the work of art and real life which ultimately transformed the two-dimensional plain into a threedimensional space that aspired a lossless transfer of reality into art. By making use of objet trouvé the artist implied that there is no low or high art. Everything is beautiful and has its place even when it is strange, unusual, or weird. Every object that is here has the right to exist.

Untitled (Signal), 1980

By Incorporating a found comb, Rauschenberg’s Untitled (Signal) continues his iconic technique pioneered in his Combines (1954–64), of bringing everyday objects into the context of modern art. It exemplifies, as he said, his quest to act “in the gap” between art and life. Untitled (Signal) is unique as it is one of only two works in the Signal series which incorporate a three-dimensional object.

Untitled (Signal) is a painting series from 1980 that includes solvent transfer imagery and fabric mounted on plywood. The series title was inspired by the uniformy and the square shape of nautical signal flags. In his Signal series Rauschenberg used a variety of techniques, including cut-and-pasted fabric collage as well as solvent transfer.

In 1952 the artist first experimented with solvent transfer imagery, before fully developing the technique in 1958. After soaking print media in a solvent, Rauschenberg placed the image or text face down and used pressure to transfer the ink. Rauschenberg explained about his solvent transfer works: “I felt I had to find a way to use collage in drawing, to incorporate my own way of working on that intimate scale,”. This work, from 1980, shows Rauschenberg’s mature development of the technique that he no longer used exclusively for works on paper.

In 1970 Rauschenberg moved his main studio to Captiva, Florida, where he could view both the ocean and bay. The subject matter and titles of his works after this move reflect the shift away from New York and his proximity to the water. Untitled (Signal) includes a solvent transfer image of a boat propeller on the right side of the composition.

Rauschenberg’s strong appreciation for art and art history resulted in the use of a found comb that evokes Marcel Duchamp’s Comb of 1916. The artist was an acquaintance of Duchamp’s and an admirer of his work. He was especially inspired by Duchamp’s incorporation of found and discarded materials into the context of art. Several other artists also present iconic images featuring the comb, including Rauschenberg’s good friend, Pop artist James Rosenquist.

Most of the works from this relatively small series are in private collections. One is in the collection of the Setagaya Art Museum, Tokyo.

(Text by Drs. Quirine Verlinde)
ROBERT RAUSCHENBERG   Untitled (Signal), 1980
Solvent transfer, acrylic, fabric and found comb collage on panel, 31.6 × 32 inches (80,2 × 81,2 cm)
Warm regards,

Laszlo von Vertes & Team
Galerie von Vertes Zürich GmbH
Bahnhofstrasse 16
8001 Zürich Switzerland
Galerie von Vertes GmbH
Kantonsstrasse 1
8807 Freienbach · Switzerland