"There is no reason not to consider the world as one gigantic painting," Rauschenberg said. He composed First Landing Jump from a rusted license plate, an enamel light reflector, a tire impaled by a street barrier, a man's shirt, a blue lightbulb in a can, and a black tarpaulin, as well as paint and canvas. Jasper Johns coined the term "Combine" for such works, which he described as "painting playing the game of sculpture." Though the taut metal coil alludes to the motion of the parachute jump referred to in the title, and the lightbulb is lit with electricity, in their second lives these items are divested of their original purpose and fixed into the work of art.
MoMA Audio: Collection, 2008
Curator, Anne Umland: First Landing Jump is an example of what Rauschenberg called Combines. The title might refer to the notion of a parachute jumper, a leap into space, a leap into the void. It's fundamentally lyrical, open-ended, poetic, and associative. It's supposed to spark thoughts in the viewers mind.
This combine works with a traditional support, a canvas or a picture frame. So its between painting and sculpture. It has things that we can name, a light reflector in the upper center, a tire. But of course a tire that has been rendered functionless because it's impaled on that black and white street barrier.
So if art is a space that is framed within, in this case, a square, and life is the space that were in, this work is inhabiting both worlds. The three-dimensional objects project out of the canvas and into our space. The tire rests on the floor upon which we stand. He is composing a picture, albeit a very unconventional picture, out of the stuff of life.