Artwork Detail

American, 1925–2008
Oil and silkscreen on canvas
60 x 48 "
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Richard K. Weil, 1972
WU 4499
© Robert Rauschenberg Foundation / Licensed by VAGA, New York
The work of American artist Robert Rauschenberg marks a transition between American post-World War II Abstract Expressionist painting and the development of Pop Art in the 1960s, which based its aesthetics on commercial imagery. In the 1950s, Rauschenberg began assembling disparate found objects into works called "combines," which he then painted with loose, gestural brushwork derived from the Abstract Expressionists. The following decade, as demonstrated in Choke, Rauschenberg combined this individualistic, expressionist brushwork with the more detached, mechanical techniques of commercial printing. The artist screenprinted imagery from mass media, such as newspapers and periodicals, onto the canvas in a collage-like manner and blocked out parts of the canvas with gestural, painterly passages. With this synthesis of painterly techniques and mass media imagery - the visible presence on the canvas of both the artist and the world around him - Rauschenberg rejects the Abstract Expressionist notion of internalized, individualistic modes of creation, offering instead a concept of the self not as autonomous but as determined by both internal and external factors. In addition to mimicking the bombarding effect on the senses of television, film, and other media, the fragmented, rapid imagery that overlaps and dissolves into itself here presents a congested and disorderly sensibility set within the political and social turmoil of the 1960s.