The Nasher Museum presents Rauschenberg: Collecting and Connecting, an ambitious exhibition originating at Duke in close collaboration with the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation in New York City. The exhibition offers a fresh look at 30 of Rauschenberg’s works spanning five-decades of his career, art that he reserved in his own collection. Organized into nine sections, two gallery pavilions will feature Rauschenberg together with work by artists in the Nasher Museum’s permanent collection, with special emphasis on its significant group of Russian nonconformist and conceptual art of the 1980s and 1990s, on view for the first time. In addition, the exhibition includes the Nasher’s newly acquired collection of works by Bruce Conner, putting Rauschenberg’s art in conversation with 25 of Conner’s works in a section titled Bruce Conner One Man Show (with Rauschenberg). Underscoring how Rauschenberg fostered connections, the exhibition highlights Rauschenberg in an interchange with the unique visual vocabularies of all the artists in the show. “We are thrilled to present many rarely viewed works by Rauschenberg and to stage his great artistic achievements in a new context with new connections,” said curator Kristine Stiles, France Family Professor of Art, Art History & Visual Studies at Duke. “This exhibition is about new eyes on Rauschenberg and his dialogue with other artists of his time.”
The exhibition includes painting, drawing, collage, printmaking, sculpture, ceramics, fresco, assemblage, photography and film. Rauschenberg: Collecting and Connecting is curated by Kristine Stiles, France Family Professor of Art, Art History & Visual Studies at Duke, with the curatorial assistance of Duke undergraduates Lauren Acampora, Katherine Hardiman, Emma Hart, Jacqueline Samy, and Taylor Zakarin, who are authors of the catalogue and will graduate with distinction for their work on the project.
An exhibition catalogue, featuring essays by Stiles and her students, is funded by the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation.
Robert Rauschenberg (1925–2008) and Bruce Conner (1933–2008), born eight years apart, both came to national attention in their early 20’s. Rauschenberg, who was born in Texas and spent his adult life on the East Coast, began creating monochrome paintings in 1951, and by 1954, had developed his famous “combine” paintings. Conner, a Kansas native and lifelong San Franciscan, came to prominence in the late 1950s for his assemblages associated with Beat culture and for his pioneering avant-garde films. Notoriously eclectic, both Rauschenberg and Conner worked in many mediums. Each man considered himself a reluctant radical, making change a constant in their art, and eluding the efforts of others to categorize their styles.
Rauschenberg: Collecting and Connecting is made possible by the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. At the Nasher Museum, Rauschenberg: Collecting and Connecting is made possible by Trent Carmichael; David L. Paletz Innovative Teaching Funds; Office of Academic Affairs, Trinity College, Duke University; Parker and Otis; and Nancy A. Nasher and David Haemisegger.