Robert Rauschenberg. Untitled (Asheville Citizen). c. 1952
Leah Dickerman: Asheville Citizen was one of a group of black paintings that Rauschenberg made when he came to Black Mountain College for the second time. The first time that he was there, he was very much a student. But the second time, he was a young artist in his own right. And you can sense that he's trying to reinvent himself, to make a mark on the world.
He applied paint in a new way, not as a stroke of oil paint with a brush that stood as an index of a creative genius or an artistic ego, but, rather, thickly across the surface of the work, almost like matter itself. So paint became physical. And with Asheville Citizen, he also applied sections from the local newspaper that was based in Asheville, North Carolina, outside of where Black Mountain College was.
One thing that's interesting about this newspaper is, it's still readable. It's making you encounter something that's found, part of an everyday world, and have this experience of thinking about the stuff of daily life.
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