Robert Rauschenberg (B. 1928)
Important Drawings from the Collection of Duncan MacGuigan
Robert Rauschenberg (B. 1928)

Vacation (Combine Drawing)

Robert Rauschenberg (B. 1928)
Vacation (Combine Drawing)
signed and dated 'RAUSCHENBERG DECEMBER 1961' (on the reverse)
solvent transfer on paper with ink, pencil and gouache laid down on paper
22¾ x 28¾ in. (57.8 x 73 cm.)
Executed in 1961.
Leo Castelli Gallery, New York
Mitchell Hutchins, Inc., New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner
Washington, D.C., National Collection of Fine Arts; New York, The Museum of Modern Art; The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Buffalo, Albright-Knox Art Gallery; and The Art Institue of Chicago, Robert Rauschenberg, October 1976-January 1978, p. 116, no. 92 (illustrated).
New York, Acquavella Gallery, Robert Rauschenberg Drawings 1958-1968, October-December 1986, n.p., no. 48 (illustrated in color).
Hiroshima, The Hiroshima Prefectural Art Museum, Robert Rauschenberg, November 1993-January 1994, p. 78, no. 29 (illustrated in color).
New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; Houston, The Menil Colletion; The Museum of Fine Arts and Bilbao, The Guggenheim Museum, Robert Rauschenberg: A Retrospective, September 1997-January 1998, p. 171, no. 166 (illustrated in color).

Lot Essay

"Painting relates to both art and life. Neither can be made. I try to act in the gap between the two" (cited in Robert Rauschenberg exh. cat. Solomon. R. Guggenheim Museum New York, 1998, p. 558).

Vacation is a transfer drawing that Rauschenberg made in 1961. By this time Rauschenberg's original interest in transferring imagery and objects from real life onto the picture plain--an interest common to both his Combines and the early transfer drawings--had given way to a stronger preoccupation with the process by which a work of art comes into being. In the same way that earlier transfer drawings such as Cage had closely paralleled the contemporaneous work Rauschenberg was doing with his Combines, Vacation echoes the increasingly conceptual 'combines' Rauschenberg had begun to make in the early 1960s.

Entitled Vacation, this transfer drawing appears to be a similar pictorial record of another interactive event in the artist's life; a vacation. The work deliberately echoes its title in the familiar way in which it invokes a sense of travel and multiple orientation by playing strongly on the displacing and disassociation of imagery that had distinguished Rauschenberg's earlier Combines and transfer drawings. Rauschenberg's technique of presenting multiple imagery simultaneously in a panoply of differing form and color both encouraged and powerfully conveyed what one critic has described as the 'city dweller's rapid scan' in replacement of the more traditional 'art audience's stare' (Brian O'Doherty, American Masters: The Voice and the Myth, New York, 1974, p. 198). In addition to this, the imagery of the work with its many clocks suggests a range of different times and locations as if the picture itself offered a multiple perspective on the remembered activities and events of a vacation.

Rauschenberg had attempted something similar to this in some of the photographs he took during his travels through North Africa and Italy with Cy Twombly. Indeed, in this work with its many schismatic and seemingly abstract splashes of paint and co-ordinated but apparently disassociative imagery, something of the lyrical meandering sense of odyssey in Twombly's art is recalled. Vacation dates however, from the period when Rauschenberg had moved into a new and larger studio at 809 Broadway where he spent an inordinate amount of time with Jasper Johns with whom he often vacationed at his new house on an island off the coast of South Carolina. There, as on his travels with Twombly, Rauschenberg, a keen photographer, regularly took photographs many of which ended up being used as source material in his transfer drawings. One of the central images used in this work is a photograph of Rauschenberg himself standing with a bicycle --whose two wheels pictorially echo the many images of clocks and watches littered around the picture--standing next to the ocean. In addition to these images suggesting both a random displacement of space and time, a number of other disparate images of race horses, a chair, electronic equipment and even an Elizabethan portrait have been transfer-sketched onto the work. The combination of this seemingly random imagery suggests a dreamlike or memory-filled montage in time and space with the postcard-like image of Rauschenberg on vacation by the sea framed at the center of this apparently arbitrary flux of images and events. In this way the work appears to suggest itself as a biographical portrait of Rauschenberg's life at this time. It is a pictorial 'rapid scan' of his fascination with the multifarious world in which he lived, of his private and public actions and activities, and a dynamic and vital vision that offers itself as a pictorial approximation of an art and a life intertwined.

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