Robert Rauschenberg, plus Wilfredo Lam, Tate Modern, 6 December 2016

An appointment to view the Robert Rauschenberg arranged a long time ago, as Janie takes advantage of her Tate membership so we can see the exhibition on a members’ evening.

Janie came to the Z/Yen office to meet me. We then walked from Lothbury to the Tate Modern across Southwark Bridge – a pleasant 20 minutes or so walk when the weather is good, which it was.

We got to the Tate ahead of the special evening opening hours, so we went to the members’ bar and had a small “glass of” each to sustain ourselves for the exhibition.

When we staggered down the stairs to go to the Rauschenberg, we first encountered the entrance for the Wilfredo Lam, which the Tate had also opened up for the evening to enable members to see both exhibitions out of hours. “Why not?” we thought and gave the Wilfredo Lam a quick once-over. We’d seen a fair smattering of his works in Cuba and remembered that he wasn’t exactly our favourite. A bit austere. “Picasso-lite” I described it – probably not an entirely original comment.

Then the Rauschenberg, the real purpose of our visit. Both of us had seen some of his stuff before and liked it, but neither of us had seen much and we both knew little about him.

Janie latched on to his abstract expressionist roots and started sounding off about the absence of such artists as Rauschenberg and Cy Twombly in the exhibition of that name at the Royal Academy, which we visited to hat-losing effect a few weeks ago – click here. It was interesting to learn that Rauschenberg and Twombly had been romantically entangled when young.

We both like his use of colour and some of the earlier, experimental works are interesting. I didn’t much like the transfer drawings but clearly this technique was a step on the path towards his astonishing silkscreen work, which we both find very pleasing and interesting.

The later work is a bit hit and miss. Rauschenberg was bound to be fascinated by the use of digital imaging as part of his work in later years, yet somehow I think the cruder, analogue methods produce more interesting work in his genre.

Well worth seeing, the Rauschenberg exhibition.



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