Rauschenberg works in a variety of media, often pushing the boundaries of his materials to experiment with new ways of creating art. His prints are no exception: In 1963 he used a broken lithographic stone to make his famous print Accident, and, four years later, Booster—which shows an x–ray photograph of the artist's full body—was the largest handpulled print ever made.
Shades is one of Rauschenberg's earliest forays into bookmaking, and it, too, reinterprets its medium. Instead of paper, the book is constructed from an aluminum frame holding a fixed title page and five movable plates of plexiglass. Rauschenberg lithographed numerous images taken from newspapers and magazines on each panel. When the plates are inserted into the base—in one of six million possible permutations, according to one expert—the work becomes three dimensional and weblike, glowing from the light of a small bulb attached in the back.
Gallery label from Book/Shelf, March 26–July 7, 2008.