From the Seat of Authority, from Suite of Nine Prints, 1979
30½ x 23 inches (77.5 x 58.5 cm.)
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American painter and graphic artist Robert Rauschenberg pioneered the use of nontraditional materials in the creation of artwork, incorporating three-dimensional everyday objects and printed matter such as photographs and newspaper excerpts. Those highly-acclaimed and disruptive ‘Combines’ resulted in the progressive blend of painting and sculpture, questioning the distinction between fine art and readymade objects. Although primarily a painter and sculptor, Robert also worked with printmaking, photography and performance throughout his six-decade spanning career. To him we owe the foundations of what would be later called conceptual art, based on his ‘Neo-Dadaist’ belief that it was at the artist’s own discretion to define art.
From the Seat of Authority features imagery ranging from Renaissance-era portraiture to modern organigrams. By blending an eclectic series of images and applying what seems to be a colored filter or varnish over them, Rauschenberg challenges the viewer to question its understanding of the elements composing its everyday life and culture, sparking new dialogue. His pieces remained a far-reaching influence for later modern artists, such as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, well beyond his lifetime.