Robert Rauschenberg - Editions & Works on Paper New York Thursday, October 22, 2020 | Phillips

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  • Literature

    Ruth E. Fine and Mary Lee Corlett 196

  • Catalogue Essay

    “Airport Suite was realized, proofed and editioned at Rauschenberg’s Captiva studio – the first time a project was developed and completed off [Graphicstudio’s] campus. Rauschenberg and I had lengthy discussions concerning this project before sending down printers, press, and materials. I recall one morning when he came out after shaving with blood on his cheek, saying that he loved the color and wanted to do a colorful print project. I gathered newspaper matrices – primarily because I’ve never seen a successful print made with one of these, and students try to work with them all the time. I also got some beautifully heavy-toothed stiff paper. Bob had a great deal of difficulty with these elements. He said I was thinking ‘hard’ while he was thinking ‘soft’. So he switched to fabric as a printing base.

    Airport Suite was Rauschenberg’s first intaglio project. Not only was the printing material innovative, but the method of printing was totally new. By folding fabrics of differing weaves, he was able to print on and through the materials simultaneously. After printing, the fabric was unfolded and the sections sewn. He achieved images of great expansiveness through a single press run. He further extended the visual impact of the images by additions – bottle caps, rulers, and his entire collection of neckties.”

    As master printer Donald Saff describes, the ten works that made up the Airport suite are emblematic of Rauschenberg’s propensity for experimentation, as well as, evoking the same raw physicality seen in his early combines. In using fabric, the printed images, patterns and shapes build upon each other through the transparent and semitransparent layers. Once through the press, folds and stray threads left impressions on the thin white cotton and muslin; in Rauschenberg’s mind, these were “free collaboration”.

    By the time printing was completed in Captiva and the parts were assembled at Graphicstudio in Tampa, Rauschenberg was already scheduled to leave on his next adventure. To get the works signed, Graphicstudio packed up the edition and brought it to a room in a Tampa airport hotel, thus deeming the series the Airport suite. Fitting for the pace and energy of Rauschenberg’s life at that time.


Sheephead, from Airport Suite

Relief and intaglio print on fabric in colors with collage of wooden ruler sewn on print, the full sheet.
approximately 34 1/2 x 47 in. (87.6 x 119.4 cm)
Signed, dated and numbered 'XVI/XX' in black ink (slightly faded) (there were also 20 in Arabic numerals and 14 artist's proofs), published by Graphicstudio, University of South Florida, Tampa (with their inkstamp on the reverse), unframed.

$4,000 - 6,000 

Sold for $4,788

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Editions & Works on Paper

New York Auction 21 - 22 October 2020