Long interested in the idea of cultural exchange between artists and artisans, in the 1980s Robert Rauschenberg began his ROCI (Rauschenberg Overseas Cultural Interchange) project, a project devoted to promoting art to communicate beyond language and cultural barriers. While the project involved travel to a number of countries around the world, Rauschenberg was particularly interested in Japan, a modern country with a well maintained cultural tradition.
Rauschenberg travelled to Shigaraki, a village near Osaka well known for its red-coloured clay that had been used by Japan's finest potters for hundreds of years. He collaborated with chemists at the Otsuka Chemical Company to create large-format ceramic tiles in bright colours that could hold their hues in the most extreme conditions. The present work All Abordello Doze 4 is from his series of Japanese Recreational Clay Works conceived and executed during his second visit to Shigaraki. Employing a photographic image transfer technique devised locally, Rauschenberg playfully takes images of well known masterpieces such as Leonardo Da Vinci's Mona Lisa (collection Musée du Louvre, Paris), and as with the present work, Gustave Courbet's Sommeil (collection Petit Palais, Musée des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris) superimposes elements from his own photographs on to them.