Robert Rauschenberg’s approach to art making was expansive and generous and his works reveal his sharp-eyed observations. Harvesting imagery and ideas from the daily news, politics, popular culture, and from his vast circle of friends and fellow artists, he created works which were a prescient harbinger of today’s culture of sampling and remix. Rauschenberg was also deeply interested in dance, film and the history of art, and was known for his fusion of the performing and visual arts as well as his life-long collaborations with dancers, choreographers, and theater artists. If expansive in content and form, he was just as endlessly inventive in his use of an exceptionally wide range of materials – from traditional media like paint and silkscreen, to plastics, foils, neon and found objects salvaged from scrap yards and back alleys; his freewheeling approach to art merged his life and the world around him with a seamless, exuberant energy that continues to influence artists today.
The Lurid Attack of the Monsters from the Postal News Aug. 1875 (Kabal American Zephyr) (1981) is part of a sculpture series inspired by the illustrations of the 19th century Japanese printmaker Tsukioka Yoshitoshi. In 1875 Yoshitoshi made prints for the Yūbin hōchi shinbun newspaper to illustrate crime, politics, and public interest stories. Rauschenberg’ cannon-like work features a collage of images ranging from nature scenes to boats at sea, John Lennon playing piano, skydivers, and soldiers wearing gas masks. Lurid Attack is rather foreboding, confronting viewers with its low-slung, precarious length and menacing maw-like row of toothy saws bent under tension..
Robert Rauschenberg, Canyon, SmartHistory, August 2015