Rauschenberg made this work from two identical canvases, matte black paint, and a sheet from the August 3, 1951, issue of the Asheville Citizen newspaper. Asheville, North Carolina, is near Black Mountain College, where Rauschenberg was a student in an experimental arts program in the late 1940s and early 1950s. He considered this and his other black paintings to be “visual experiences . . . not Art” and refuted the symbolic associations of his color choice. Despite its sideways orientation, the sheet’s contents remain legible beneath layers of paint. Sports columns, a crossword puzzle, and a wide range of advertisements, for groceries, jobs, and “baby chicks for 50 cents each,” give this painting historical as well as anecdotal context.
Gallery label from 2011.