3. Screenprinted paintings and installations, 1962–70
Source: Oxford University Press
Rauschenberg stopped making combine paintings in 1962, when he found a way of adapting his method of transfer drawing to canvas by applying found images through the photomechanical process of screenprinting. Often he painted over this printed surface in oils, for example in Estate (1963; Philadelphia, PA, Mus. A.), and he remained interested in textural effects and in apparently spontaneous methods of organizing his imagery, which gave these works a more personal touch than that sought by Andy Warhol in his screenprinted paintings of the same date. It was nevertheless in these works and in editioned prints, such as Breakthrough II (colour lithograph, 1965; New York, MOMA), that he came closest in spirit to Pop art.
Rauschenberg won, with some controversy, the grand prize for painting at the Venice Biennale in 1964, but after that date his interest shifted from painting to performances and more elaborate sculptures and installations. Until 1965 he travelled with Merce Cunningham’s company, for which he had designed sets and costumes from 1954 and acted as lighting director and stage manager from 1961. He staged his own performances from 1963, with the première of Pelican, which he choreographed and designed, through to 1967. The dramatic aspects of these live events were translated into sculptural installations such as Oracle (1965; Paris, Pompidou), a ‘sound environment’ consisting of five motor-operated objects.
The battered appearance of such works, still aligned with junk art, soon gave way to more elegant and pristine installations. Soundings (2.44×10.97×1.37 m, 1968; Cologne, Mus. Ludwig), for instance, consists of three rows of nine perspex panels, each with screenprinted photographs of chairs taken from different angles; electric lights within the work are activated by sounds made by visitors in a darkened gallery, encouraging prolonged applause in a deft metaphor rewarding the artist for his performance.
From Grove Art Online