William Blake divided the world according to the rubric of “the prolific and the devourer” without anticipating the possibility of the uncanny Robert Rauschenberg, an artist who could be both at the same time. The colossally thrilling exhibition of “Anagrams, Arcadian Retreats, Anagrams (A Pun)” at the cavernous Pace gallery on West 25th Street offer Chelsea gallery goers the opportunity to climb that peak of encyclopedic creativity one more time.
The “Anagrams” are large scale, linguistically playful paintings (including frescos) that Rauschenberg started making in the three-year runup to the vast Guggenheim retrospective in 1997 and continued making until 2002 (he died in 2008). He made these paintings by pushing the scale of the epic series of works on paper, Thirty-Four Drawings for Dante’s Inferno (1959-60), which still represents the Rosetta stone for the understanding of the artist’s iconography and technique.
Blowing up the transfer technique of that series (originally, soaking the magazine images in lighter fluid and rubbing them on paper with an empty ballpoint pen) to collect semi-transparent pictures, he then, with the bravura only he could muster, angled, swirled and layered them in symphonic pageants for which the term collage seems wholly inadequate even if it is technically right. The touch of the painter is in the sweeping gestures back and forth across the surface as he waved the squeegee with flourishes worthy of the Abstract Expressionists.
By Charles A. Riley II. Click here to read the full review. Hamptons Art Hub is an online publication revealing art from The Hamptons, New York City, South Florida and beyond. Expect to find reviews, news, events, artist profiles and more.
Robert Rauschenberg: “Anagrams, Arcadian Retreats, Anagrams (A Pun),” continues through December 12, 2015 at Pace Gallery on West 25th Street.