Rauschenberg: Collecting & Connecting is installed in eight thematic sections: 1. Black and White (with Red): Variations on the Monochrome; 2. North Carolina and Italy: Rauschenberg’s Photographs, 1949–52; 3. Rock Paper Scissors: Materiality, Process, Society; 4. Light, Mirror, and Mirage: Capturing Ephemeral Nature; 5. Auditions in the Carnal House: Picturing Eroticism; 6. Soviet/American Array: Part I, Politics and Friendships; 7. Soviet/American Array: Part II, Cacophony of Cultures; and 8. Bruce Conner One Man Show (with Rauschenberg): A Visual Dialogue.
Descriptive texts are accompanied by a sampling of works from each section. A complete illustrated exhibition checklist and installation photography are also available for viewing.
Rauschenberg attended Black Mountain College near Asheville, North Carolina, for the 1948–49 academic year. He began working with the artist Susan Weil on blueprint monoprints in 1949. LIFE magazine featured the artists in its April 9, 1951 issue.
Returning to Black Mountain for the summer session of 1951, he enrolled in photographer Hazel-Frieda Larsen’s class and was exposed to guest lectures by photographers Harry Callahan, Aaron Siskind, and others. That summer and the next, he produced multiple portfolios of photographs. Enraptured with the medium, Rauschenberg expressed his desire to photograph the entire continental United States “foot by foot.” Instead, he photographed the artist and fellow Black Mountain student Cy Twombly and his work, helping Twombly to win a travel fellowship to Europe. The two artists departed in August of 1952, settling in Rome and traveling to Morocco, where Rauschenberg worked for a time. Bringing only a Rolleiflex camera, Rauschenberg continued to experiment with photography while abroad. Photography remained central to his art throughout his career.
I never stopped being a photographer.
— Robert Rauschenberg