Mr. Rauschenberg Goes to China
In 1982, about a decade after the height of his fame, the artist Robert Rauschenberg left the Florida island he called home and took his first trip to China. While the snapshots he took there with his Hasselblad ended up being the only color photography he designated as art, they've rarely been exhibited – in fact, at first glance, they could be the work of any charmingly amateur photographer named Bob. Still, Rauschenberg's photos were hardly just tourist mementos: They were also studies for "Chinese Summerhall," a 100-foot long photograph that was a centerpiece of his expansive 1985 exhibit there called "ROCI CHINA." Part of "Rauschenberg Overseas Culture Interchange," his quixotic attempt at cultural exchange through art, it made for what was at the time a landmark showing of Western art, and the only major show of his work in China until now. "Rauschenberg in China," opening June 12th at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing, traces his time in the country through these early photos and "ROCI" ephemera, along with "The 1/4 Mile or 2 Furlong Piece," a magnum opus that took the artist 17 years to complete. Revisit it all again, here.