An analysis of Robert Rauschenberg's combine-painting period

Authors: Gauthier, Louise
Advisor: Moore, Elliott
Abstract: During the late 1950s and early 1960s, many critics believed that Robert Rauschenberg’s combine-painting period was a revival of the revolutionary Dada movement. Indeed, in many articles, critics referred to the combines as "neo-dada". In the mid 1960s, however, a new wave of criticism began to surface which strongly criticized this categorization. Rather than considering Rauschenberg as a neo-dadaist, these critics saw him as a precursor to Pop. The purpose of this paper will be to show that while both critical perspectives contain some elements of truth, neither one adequately explains the combine-paintings and the basic artistic project that motivated them. After examining the points of view defended by some representatives of these opposed perspectives, I shall argue that the essential value of Rauschenberg’s combine-paintings does not lie in their relationship to either Dada or Pop. Unlike Dada’s total rejection of the institution of art in bourgeois society and Pop art’s cynical acceptance of it, Rauschenberg’s combine-paintings work within the institution of art in order to subvert it, thus reformulating the historical avant- garde’s unfinished project of breaking down the distinction between art as an autonomous entity and day-to-day life.
Reproduction Note: Montréal Trigonix inc. 2018
Document Type: Mémoire de maîtrise
Issue Date: 1990
Open Access Date: 9 February 2019
Grantor: Université Laval
Collection:Thèses et mémoires

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