Despite Robert Rauschenberg’s status as a dominant figure in post-war American art, there is an undeniable gulf between him and his Pop-art brethren. In the public imagination and in the marketplace, he was eclipsed by the likes of Andy Warhol and Jasper Johns.
Today, the Rauschenberg Foundation, which the artist established before his death in 2008, hopes to inspire enthusiasm among art lovers and buyers. This spring, the foundation is collaborating with three galleries — Gladstone and Mnuchin in New York and Thaddaeus Ropac in Salzburg — for focused exhibitions that “will make visible the stylistic diversity and conceptual continuity of this radically inventive artist,” the foundation said in a statement. communicated. .
“It’s probably safe to say that Bob is the greatest, most well-known and least understood artist,” foundation director Kathy Halbreich told Artnet News. Halbreich thinks it’s, at least in part, because the artist had an incredible stylistic range – and the art world prefers easy definitions.
“You are this or that: painter or sculptor; artist or craftsman; tied to your place and mirroring it or purely global,” she said. “Bob is a ‘both’ artist and that makes it really hard for people to come across, but it also makes him the perfect artist for today.”
Rauschenberg’s “Venetians” and “Early Egyptians” series, produced between 1972 and 1974, will be presented at Gladstone’s two branches in New York. Made from everyday materials, they reveal the often overlooked role of the artist in defining the history of post-minimalist sculpture.
Ropac, meanwhile, will show rarely seen works in clay that Rauschenberg made in Japan in the 1980s and 1990s. , will be exhibited at the Mnuchin gallery. Sales from the shows will support the foundation’s programs.
The Rauschenberg Foundation has had a number of different galleries over the years. In 2015, he left Gagosian in favor of three representatives: Pace, Thaddaeus Ropac and Luisa Strina. The foundation said in a statement that it no longer has an exclusive or formal relationship with any galleries, but “will continue to work with these galleries and others.” in a way that is mutually beneficial to Rauschenberg’s legacy and the foundation’s mission.
The foundation also works with top artistic advisor Allan Schwartzman, who recently started his own business after leaving Sotheby’s in 2020.
Halbreich is particularly excited to see Rauschenberg’s work in new contexts. She fondly recalled spotting one of the artist’s works hanging next to Matthew Barney and Arthur Jafa on Gladstone’s stand at a recent art fair. “Hallelujah,” she said. “I don’t want him next to Jasper Johns. I want it to be seen as prescient, giving people extraordinary permission and opening up all the avenues we tend to want to define and constrain art.
Major works by Rauschenberg rarely appear at auction. His file, $88.8 million for Buffalo II (1964), widely regarded as one of his masterpieces, was set at Christie’s in 2019. The second-highest price is a fraction of that sum, $18 million, paid for a 1961 painting in 2015, according to the Artnet Price Database.
“I think there is no artist as important and undervalued by the market as Robert Rauschenberg,” Schwartzman told Artnet News. “There has been a lot of success and growth in the private market, but none of it is published or widely shared. Sometimes it takes 50 years of hindsight for an artist’s vision, like Rauschenberg’s, to fully manifest and for its historical relevance and significance to be redefined through the eyes of contemporary art.
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