Rauschenberg playfully splashed his screen-prints with brilliant daubs of colour, forcing his audience to rethink everyday objects.
As part of a community of creatives in New York, Rauschenberg was inspired by his close friendships, with artists and composers such as John Cage and Jasper Johns, to think outside the box and not to be afraid of pushing the boundaries.
He encouraged his audience to experience sheer aesthetic delight as they observed his colourful prints. In his hands, otherwise insignificant images blossomed!
Rauschenberg is often referred to as a Pop artist. Pop art is famous for lifting images from mainstream culture, vibrant colours, and mass production methods such as screen-printing.
For example, Rauschenberg, in his Suite of Nine Prints overlays images of well-known sportsmen, Renaissance-era drawings, and technical diagrams. He lifted images from the heart of consumer culture and reproduced them using the technique of screen-printing, traditionally used for commercial artwork.
Making the normal, abnormal
Rauschenberg worked across many mediums, including painting, sculpture and performance, but he favoured screen-printing.
For Suite of Nine Prints, he lifted images from books, newspapers, and even his own photographs and merged them into prints like this.
Rauschenberg found beauty in everyday objects. Through his decontextualisation of popular imagery, renaissance illustrations and contemporary newsprint, he compelled new forms of symbolism and meaning in his collaged images. He had a unique ability to translate the everyday into something altogether unexpected.
Rauschenberg aimed to challenge the viewer to question their understanding of the elements of their everyday lives and culture, and he did this by blending together different images to spark new dialogue.
This aptitude for posing questions about modes of representation, and for finding new meaning in everyday objects, corresponds with contemporary Dadaist motivations to stir up ideological discourse about societal structures and institutions.
The Bigger the Better
Screen-printing techniques liberated Rauschenberg from the scale restrictions often found with transfer techniques.
With screen-printing, he had complete control over the scale of his found images as he layered them to produce the prints.
Consequently, screen-printing allowed him to create larger-scale projects. For example, we currently hold Suite of Nine Prints (1979) which Rauschenberg intended to be viewed together.