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
As one of the leading postwar American artists, Robert Rauschenberg produced a number of screen prints influenced by the rise of Pop art in the 1960s. Choke combines photographic fragments with painted passages employing the vigorous brushstrokes and gestural markings typical of Abstract Expressionism. By aggressively juxtaposing such divergent styles, Rauschenberg counters the Abstract Expressionist tendency to embrace the notion of a self-sufficient subject inured to the effects of the real world. Much of the imagery, for example, suggests Rauschenberg’s own increasingly critical attitude toward Cold War American culture. The disjointed collage of an army helicopter, a troop of scouts bearing flags, and the Statue of Liberty conjures a chaotic state in which patriotism and the Vietnam War are intertwined, underscored by the “one-way” sign that dominates the upper half of the canvas. Modified to resemble a rocket and transferred to the canvas using fiery red ink, it is tilted upward, trailed by a bright orange plume of painterly drip marks. Confined nonetheless to the space of the canvas, this image ultimately evokes the frustrations of a subject confronted with the inescapable fact of contemporary sociopolitical realities. [Permanent collection label, 2017]