The exhibition does not attempt to summarise the development of the American artist, nor to show his influence on other contemporary artists. Instead, it focuses on one specific facet of the work of Robert Raushenberg (Texas, 1925 - Florida, 2008). The Gluts artworks are wall reliefs and sculptures created between 1986 and 1995 from traffic signs, exhaust pipes, car radiator grilles, shutters, scrap metal and other debris, and echo his famous series Combines.
Rauschenberg was inspired by the economic recession of the Eighties that gave rise to a glut of oil in his native state of Texas. The state offered a bleak landscape during that period, with many gas stations closed and abandoned cars, and rusting petrol cans a common sight. Such images inspired the artist who was to soon find a new medium of expression in this debris and become a veritable champion of abandoned objects.
There is no doubt that the artist was a precursor of many artistic movements in the U.S.A. after Abstract Expressionism; he was not your common-or-garden creator but one who, more than any other artist of the twentieth of twenty-first centuries, made use of the most varied techniques. For his paintings, for example, he used all kinds of media and platforms, from boards to silk to acrylic sheeting, on which he created collages, prints and transfers. This individualistic stamp is present in the works on display in Bilbao where the visitor will find unique pieces made with ordinary, everyday objects that offer up all sorts of unexpected possibilities to take on a new lease of life.
The exhibition, which was presented in May 2009 at Venice's Peggy Guggenheim Collection and subsequently moved to the Tinguely Museum in Basel, has been brought to Spain enhanced with a score of additional works. Taking full advantage of the large display areas of the Guggenheim Bilbao, these additional works are of a significantly larger scale than those included to date. The exhibition is also complemented by the Didaktika section, an educational space with texts, pictures and audiovisuals about the Rauschenberg Overseas Culture Exchange project which highlights the social commitment of the artist and his collaborations with others from a wide range of disciplines.
Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
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