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The Invasion of Photography into Rauschenberg's Art and into the Museum

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The Invasion of Photography into Rauschenberg's Art and into the Museum By Anita Mistry Museums and Galleries: Framing Art (HT52040A) 2004-2005 My chosen book for this essay is On the Museum's Ruins by Douglas Crimp. What interested me about this book was the ideas of the museum, and what was accepted into it, especially when concerning photography. Another idea that came up when reading the chapter I chose to concentrate on also named, "On the Museum's Ruins", was the idea of Robert Rauschenberg's work as being almost an analogy for the museum, where both are made up of diverse elements. The author of the chapter and of the whole book, Douglas Crimp, displays these notions well, also looking into the work of Leo Steinberg, Michel Foucault, Andre Malraux and Hilton Kramer. Douglas Crimp's criticism displays this idea that photography being accepted as a valid artistic medium took over, or at least disrupted the discourse of modernism in the art world. He uses the example of Robert Rauschenberg who can be described as post-modern. By putting together photomechanical images with, or covered by, brushstrokes of paint, Rauschenberg intensifies awareness of what was constituted as the essence of high art culture-texture of paint deposited by brush strokes, material evidence on the artist's hand/brushstroke. ...read more.


(I.e. photography makes everything homogeneous, as it gives objects that common factor, by placing them in the same photograph, and in this way we have a larger variety of diverse elements). Though another problem crops up on page 55, when Malraux reminds us, that in reproduction, figures can lose their original significance or function. For example, an altar piece in reproduction, i.e. a photograph of it, it can not be used as an altar piece. Going on from this idea, it seemed to Walter Benjamin who was the first to see that photography would have a profound effect on art, and that art may even disappear because of it, having lost all importance through mechanical reproduction.5 Robert Rauschenberg appears in the text near the beginning in relation to Leo Steinberg's Other Criteria. With Rauschenberg, photography began to act together with painting in its own destruction. Rauschenberg was called a painter throughout the first decade of his career as an artist, although when he took on photography in the early sixties you couldn't really describe his art as painting. He seemed to form a hybrid form of printing. ...read more.


The colours used are black, white and grey and the motifs he included were urban environment, athletes, space exploration and flight, modes of transport and examples from art history. Another example of the heterogeneity in Rauschenberg's work is displayed in Odalisk (1955-1958), which is made up of "oil, watercolour, pencil, crayon, paper, fabric, photographs, printed reproductions, miniature blueprint, metal, newspaper, glass, dried grass and steel wool, with pillow, wood post, electric lights and Plymouth Rock rooster, on wood structure mounted on four casts."9 Displayed here are just a few examples of how art and the museum don't have to be homogenous. In the case of the museum, in some ways what Kramer said was right, in that it is unsuitable to place such glaring opposites together in a museum. Although when you look at photography, and of what kind of things are included ion the frame, anything can go together. This idea also applies to art works themselves. As we have seen with Rauschenberg's art, it is possible to combine different elements, anything from photography to silk screens, from glass, to fabric. In doing this type of combing in his art Rauschenberg managed to breach the discourse of modernism and rebel against the rules and regulations of the then, art world. ...read more.

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