Robert Rauschenberg - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale - Morning Session New York Wednesday, November 15, 2017 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Leo Castelli Gallery, New York
    Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design (acquired from the above in 1967)
    Private Collection
    Thence by descent to the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    Robert Rauschenberg’s Dietrich Draw is a stellar example of the artist’s renowned transfer drawings, the first of which was executed in 1952. In these works, Rauschenberg takes his characteristic technique of assemblage and applies it to a two-dimensional surface. Created by soaking printed images in a solvent, such as turpentine, and then transferring the image to paper with cross-hatching, the resulting compositions of the transfer drawings are an amalgamation of source imagery, all of which explore a series of nonlinear American narratives. As such, the resulting image exists somewhere outside of the categorizations of painting, drawing and printmaking, being neither entirely mechanized nor hand-produced. In fact, the 1960s marked a departure from the artist’s use of printed mass media imagery found in popular culture in favor of a focus on craft and found materials, a transition which was highlighted in his major retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art this past summer. Dietrich Draw thus represents a unique combination of these two distinct influences, which Rauschenberg was drawing from at this pivotal time.

    The present lot is so titled after the famed German American actress and singer Marlene Dietrich, who appears as a transferred image in the lower right quadrant of the composition. Dietrich was celebrated in the United States for her support of German and French exiles during World War II, making her appearance in Rauschenberg’s solvent drawings particularly patriotic, and a tribute to an alternative American hero. Executed circa 1966, the work follows the year when Dietrich received the honorable Israeli Medallion of Valor, making her both the first woman and German to receive the honor. Highly characteristic of Rauschenberg’s most iconic transfer drawings, Dietrich’s ghostly portrait hovers amongst an array of symbols, including a sequence of numbers, text and abstract brushwork, making the present lot one of the artist’s most successful drawings from a critical period in his career.


Dietrich Draw

solvent transfer with gouache, pencil and collage on paperboard
15 x 19 7/8 in. (38.1 x 50.5 cm.)
Executed in 1966, this work is registered in the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation archives under number 66.D010.

$180,000 - 250,000 

Sold for $140,000

Contact Specialist
John McCord
Head of Day Sale, Morning Session
New York
+1 212 940 1261

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale - Morning Session

New York Auction 15 November 2017