Tag Archives: Modern art

Robert Rauschenberg: Grand Rapids Art Museum

In 2007 I had the pleasure of publicizing a great series of works by Robert Rauschenberg called Currents. Created during the winter of 1970, he clipped disturbing and attention grabbing headlines from various national newspapers, arranging them in aesthetically pleasing and titillating fashion and translated them into photographic prints. Based on the social, political and financial turmoil of the times, he covered events through his clippings in a way that fed that the news in a palatable way, urging viewers to come in for a closer look.

The Grand Rapids Art Museum is currently showing and hosting a myriad of events surrounding the works of one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. From now until May 20th, 2012, you can join in the conversation and see the pieces from his time at Gemini, a major print studio and collective in Los Angeles.

While he’s known for his prints and multiples, his most sought-after and profound works were his combines, objects joined and manipulated to be read in a totally new context altogether. Rauschenberg passed away a year after I installed his show at the gallery where I was. With his passing he leaves behind a legacy of process and collaboration that brought together great thinkers such as John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Cy Twombly and most notably Jasper Johns. I’m looking forward to seeing the exhibit. I hope you will too.

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That Was Then…

…and for many reasons, I feel unfortunately, that the Now in art objects is lacking. I’m not saying that the heavy use of metal and plastics was the best thing for the environment but things were beautiful and utilitarian. There’s an air of purpose in mid-century and Modern art and objects; it’s no wonder it’s wildly popular today.

I see plenty of well-designed products in the market today but they’re almost too sparse for me. I want the first go-at-it, the sense of urgency the early industrial designers must have felt. Now everything is pared down. I once heard Jerome Witkin say the contemporary art scene was a “…field full of vacuous art,” and I’m afraid he’s right. Our senses have leaned too far that direction. Give me a few clunky knobs and over-reaching arcs. I’d take an Arco over a West Elm any day. I feel lucky that we have access to art and design objects of that era that not only woo our senses but are practical to have around the apartment too.

Before CAD

Before we chose fonts in Adobe

…we had to create them by hand.
Before Adobe Illustrator

Before e-mail

I urge you to think, question, create and chat. Have a wonderful weekend, everyone. See you Monday.


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