Robert Rauschenberg - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale - Morning Session New York Thursday, November 18, 2021 | Phillips

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  • Brimming with Robert Rauschenberg’s hallmark use of appropriated images, found objects and paint, Crane, 1978 presents a striking culmination of the artist’s practices of the 1950s and 1960s. The elongated wooden panel was carefully proportioned by Rauschenberg with horizontal tape; the upper segment features appropriated images which are like those the artist used in the 1960s, inspired by his visit to Andy Warhol’s studio. Images of schooners, horses, and an automobile tire were created in part by using a process known as solvent transfer – a technique borrowed from printmaking which had become a signature approach for Rauschenberg by the 1970s. This unique transference process allowed Rauschenberg to control the varying levels of legibility an image has. This control is made ever poignant in Crane, as the range of focus to the images varies across the composition. The sailboats possess a soft sfumato effect which is contrasted with the starker focused images of the horse. The lower segment of the work is dominated by two found objects – a scarf which the artist adhered loosely to the surface, and a plastic comb, unceremoniously outlined and stuck directly to the panel. These are surrounded with a painterly surface in layers of white acrylic paint. 


    The composition of Crane is a masterful example of Rauschenberg’s Neo-Dada practice, influenced by Marcel Duchamp’s use of found objects. It echoes the artist’s famed Combine works of of the 1950s in which Rauschenberg challenged the concepts of painting and sculpture and almost eliminated the distinction between the two. In Crane, the moving scarf and static comb are further juxtaposed against an almost expressionist passage of white paint and appropriated images to create a stunningly balanced monument to Rauschenberg’s genius.

    • Provenance

      Sonnabend Gallery, New York
      Galerie Denise René Hans Mayer, Düsseldorf
      Christie's, New York, May 4, 1989, lot 256
      Hirschl & Adler Modern, New York
      Michael Kohn Gallery, Los Angeles
      Christie's East, New York, November 10, 1998, lot 176
      Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      London, The Mayor Gallery, Robert Rauschenberg, June 28–August 11, 1978
      Montclair Art Museum, Collage: American Masters Part II, May 13–June 24, 1979, no. 55, n.p. (illustrated)



signed, titled and dated "CRANE RAUSCHENBERG 78" on the reverse
acrylic, solvent transfer, fabric collage, plastic, and colored vinyl on panel
83 1/4 x 36 in. (211.5 x 91.4 cm)
Executed in 1978.

Full Cataloguing

$120,000 - 180,000 

Sold for $138,600

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 18 November 2021