"Caucus," 1997 by Robert Rauschenberg
Caucus, 1997; Lithograph on Arches paper; Signed Rauschenberg, numbered LXI/XC, and dated '97 lower center; Published by Noblet Serigraphie, Inc., New York; Size - Sheet 37 x 27"; Unframed.
"Understanding is a form of blindness. Good art, I think, can never be understood." - Robert Rauschenberg
Milton Ernest "Robert" Rauschenberg (1925-2008) was an American painter and graphic artist whose early works foreshadowed the emerging Pop Art movement. He is most associated with his artworks that he called "Combines," which were created from non-traditional materials and objects but were integrated into new and innovative combinations. The "Combines" also integrated both painting and sculpture into a single work of art. Rauschenberg also worked in photography, printmaking, papermaking, and performance art. He was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 1993 and his artwork is shown and collected by all of the world's greatest museums. In 2010, one of his "Combines" entitled "Studio Painting" (1960-61) was sold by Michael Crichton through Christie's, New York auction house for $11 million.
Leo Castelli (1907-1999) was an Italian-American art dealer whose New York Gallery showcased contemporary art for five decades. Among the art movements showed were Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, Neo-Dada, Pop Art, Op Art, Color Field, Hard-edge painting, Lyrical Abstraction, Minimal Art , Conceptual Art, and Neo-expressionism. He gave Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, and Frank Stella their first one man shows. Castelli had in his stable the following historically significant artists: Larry Poons, Lee Bontecou, James Rosenquist, Andy Warhol, Robert Morris, Donald Judd, Dan Flavin, Cy Twombly, Ronald Davis, Ed Ruscha, Richard Serra, Bruce Nauman, and Joseph Kosuth.
"Caucus," 1997 was one of nine prints that were commissioned by Leo Castelli's son Jean-Christophe to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Leo Castelli Gallery and as a ninetieth birthday present for his father. The artists chosen to participate all were strongly associated with the Castelli Gallery at some point in their career and included: Jasper Johns, Ellsworth Kelly, Joseph Kosuth, Roy Lichtenstein, Richard Serra, Robert Rauschenberg, James Rosenquist, Edward Ruscha, and Bruce Nauman. The edition size of the resulting portfolio of nine prints corresponded to Leo Castelli's birthday in 1997 when he turned 90 years old. The first two portfolios were presented to Leo Castelli, with the first being a birthday gift and the second being displayed in the Castelli Gallery. The vast majority of the other 88 sets were given by Jean-Christophe to major museums and institutions around the world; making individual prints from the portfolios extremely rare.
"Caucus," is a large and extremely well executed work of art. It has as it's central focus a Bald Eagle, a reference to Leo Castelli being a champion of the new emerging American art movements. Merriam-Webster's first definition of the word "caucus" is a political reference, however the secondary definition is "a group of people united to promote an agreed-upon cause." Undoubtedly the later definition is the one Rauschenberg was ascribing to the print. With "Caucus," Rauschenberg pays homage to Castelli's decisive role and epicenter of a group of artists, art dealers, museums, and critics who together tipped the balance of power and prestige in the art world away from Europe to America in the 1960's and beyond. A rare and exceptionally well composed work by Robert Rauschenberg, and a great addition to any art collection.
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