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Ivan & Genevieve Reitman: A Life in Pictures

Party Crasher [Anagram (A Pun)]

Party Crasher [Anagram (A Pun)]
signed and dated 'RAUSCHENBERG 97' (lower left)
inkjet dye transfer on polylaminate
61 x 170 ½ in. (154.9 x 433.1 cm.)
Executed in 1997.
Private collection, Maryland
PaceWildenstein, New York
Acquired from the above by the late owner, 1998

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Allison Immergut
Allison Immergut Associate Vice President, Specialist, Co-Head of Day Sale

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Lot Essay

Party Crasher [Anagram (A Pun)] is a remarkable example of Robert Rauschenberg’s embracing of innovative printing technology for his inkjet transfer works from the late nineties to the early two thousands. The composition is a dynamic interplay familiar and foreign photographs, forming a novel composition from rearranged source imagery. Although visually disjointed at first glance, a visual rhythm emerges from this collection of compositional components: empty chairs frame the composition, suggesting the presence of figures just departed or are soon to arrive, and invites viewers to engage with its layers and symbolism and simultaneous sense of continuity and evolution. Executed in 1997, decades after his initial forays into collaged and silkscreened canvases, Party Crasher [Anagram (A Pun)] possesses the same visual, intellectual, and stylistically inventive power Rauschenberg exhibited in the 1950s and 60s. Across his vast surface, Rauschenberg screens ephemera from his everyday experience in a kaleidoscopic sprawl of contemporary imagery and his own personal view of the world through his 35mm camera.

Robert Rauschenberg’s monumental Party Crasher [Anagram (A Pun)] stems from the artist’s series of Anagrams, an impressive group of works that was honored with an exhibition at PaceWildenstein in 1996, just the year before Party Crasher [Anagram (A Pun)] was created. In the exhibition catalogue, Bernice Rose writes of this significant body of work: “[Rauschenberg’s] newest group of works is one of his more extraordinary visual reenactments of that exploration into the world of the sensate: the Anagrams are the poetic ciphers of his self’s self-discovery as it travels among the objects of the material world and inserts itself into the chaotic, arbitrary world of nature.” (Exh. Cat., New York, PaceWildenstein (and travelling), Robert Rauschenberg: Anagrams, 1996, p. 7).

Comparable examples from this series reside in esteemed collections worldwide, including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The White House, Washington, D.C. and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.

Rauschenberg emerged as a pivotal figure in the art world, bridging the gap between Abstract Expressionism and the arising Pop Art movement, his unrivaled experimentation and iconoclastic approach to integrating life and objects into his artistic practice gained him a reputation as the enfant terrible of the New York School, an identity he embraced as he forged an avant-garde aesthetic that was entirely and uniquely American. Rauschenberg’s innovative approach to art, characterized by his “Combines,” a process in which he merged painting and sculpture with found objects and everyday materials, challenged conventional parameters. His work not only defied categorization but also pushed the boundaries of what art could be. His influence can be seen in subsequent generations of artists who continue to experiment with mixed media and the blurring of artistic disciplines, thus cementing his enduring legacy in the evolution of contemporary art.

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