Robert Rauschenberg: Among Friends

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*Homage to Jean Tinguely’s Homage to New York*

Robert Breer. Homage to Jean Tinguely’s Homage to New York. 1960

Robert Breer. Homage to Jean Tinguely’s Homage to New York, 1960. 16mm film transferred to video (black and white, sound). Editing and installation by Charles Atlas. 9:29 min. Courtesy Light Cone and the Robert Breer Estate

Curator, Leah Dickerman: We're looking here at a film of a performance event by Swiss artist Juan Tinguely called Homage to New York.

Tinguely would create these clanking, clattering sculpture machines, works that moved and works that made noise. And he decided to make a giant sculpture for the garden of the Museum of Modern Art, that was intended to self-destruct with a push of the button on the evening of the event in March 1960.

In making the Homage to New York, Tinguely worked with Bell Labs engineer Billy Klüver. As Klüver tells the story, Rauschenberg was drawn to that collaborative process. He was so caught up with the process that he decided to contribute a work of his own. That's what you see here in front of you.

Julie Martin: Bob contributed what he called a mascot to the sculpture, Money Thrower

Leah Dickerman: Julie Martin collaborated with Rauschenberg and Billy Klüver for many years at Experiments in Art and Technology, a group that fostered collaboration between artists and engineers.

Julie Martin: At a certain point in the destructive process, gun powder exploded and springs were sprung apart, and silver dollars were flung into the audience.

Leah Dickerman: Rauschenberg and Klüver would collaborate together on many projects across the course of the next decade.

Julie Martin: I think meeting with Billy Klüver and having access to new technology gave him the possibility of making works that could always change, that could react to the presence of the viewer, that the viewer could become responsible for creating. But this kind of collaboration was always very exciting.