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ROBERT RAUSCHENBERG (1925-2008)
ROBERT RAUSCHENBERG (1925-2008)
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ROBERT RAUSCHENBERG (1925-2008)

Booster, from Booster and Seven Studies

Details
ROBERT RAUSCHENBERG (1925-2008)
Booster, from Booster and Seven Studies
lithograph and screenprint in colors, on Curtis Rag paper, 1967, signed and dated in pencil, numbered 12/38 (there were also twelve artist's proofs), published by Gemini G.E.L., Los Angeles, with their blindstamps, the full sheet, in good condition, framed
Sheet: 72 x 35 ½ in. (1829 x 902 mm.)
Literature
Foster 47; Gemini 32

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Lindsay Griffith
Lindsay Griffith Head of Department

Lot Essay

Robert Rauschenberg's Booster, from Booster and 7 Studies, broke new ground in many regards. In many ways, Rauschenberg and his collaborator, Kenneth Tyler, signaled a significant shift in the history of printmaking by executing a work on the grand scale of painting and full-length portraiture. Rauschenberg did not set out to make this pivotal work upon arriving at the print workshop. Later, when interviewed about Booster, he recalled, "I remember being in Los Angeles at the Grinsteins' [co-owner of Gemini G.E.L.], without an idea in my head. My idea came from nowhere. I said, "I am going to make a self-portrait." When the enthusiastic master printmaker finally convinced Robert Rauschenberg to come to Los Angeles in 1967 to work on a project with him at Gemini G.E.L., the two met in a spirit of creative ambition. After having worked on his first prints at Tanya Grosman's ULAE in West Islip, New York, the hyperbolic ambiance of Los Angeles was an energizing catalyst for the first of what would become many collaborations between Rauschenberg and Tyler. Rauschenberg worked on a series of seven prints at Gemini, a project which culminated in Booster, the eighth and largest print in the series.
At the time of its creation it was the largest lithograph ever printed on a hand-operated lithographic press. The dimensions were determined by the full scale x-ray of the artist at the center of the image. While this was a monumental achievement, it had greater ramifications to the course of printmaking. Previously and with only a few exceptions, most prints were made on an intimate scale. Beginning in the 1960s though, at a time later coined the Print Renaissance, artists and printers began to challenge this inherited notion of the graphic arts. Tyler, especially, sought to create prints that rivaled the scale, presence, and power of paintings. After Rauschenberg's Booster, artists such as Claes Oldenburg, Helen Frankenthaler, Roy Lichtenstein, and Frank Stella further explored issues of scale and stretched the technical possibilities of printmaking.
Visual elements from many of the Seven Studies reappear in Booster, such as the images of drills, a chair, and a launching pad, but its strength and power are derived from its unique central image, a life-size x-ray of the artist himself. The self-referential image is highly unusual within the artist’s oeuvre. Rauschenberg is, after all, best known for his assemblages of images scavenged, cropped and collated from different sources. In Booster, this corpus, or body of found imagery, surrounds an image of the artist’s skeleton. As an oblique depiction of the artist’s body, Booster can be considered an important autobiographical statement by the young artist at a crucial time in his development. Even the red chart superimposed over the x-ray tracks the movement of heavenly bodies by the day and year for the year 1967, clearly mapping a particular moment in his career and the artist's position in the world.

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