Robert Rauschenberg & Andy Warhol
“Us Silkscreeners…” refers to a well-known quote by Robert Rauschenberg, the full version of which is known as: “Us silkscreeners got to stick together”. Rauschenberg made this comment to the author and art critic Calvin Tomkins after a phone conversation with Andy Warhol in 1962.
Rauschenberg and Warhol met on several occasions as colleagues and participants of the vibrant art scene in New York. However, a particular meeting on September 18th, 1962 marked both of their careers. Prior to this meeting, Andy Warhol had started to transfer drawings onto silkscreens, allowing him to make serial prints. Rauschenberg, too, had been experimenting with transfer-drawing methods, beginning a dedicated exploration of his solvent transfer process in 1958. However, it was not until after his meeting with Warhol in 1962 that he started using silkscreens, and it wasn’t until after the meeting that both artists began creating silkscreen paintings based on photographs. Warhol is known to have made comments indicating that Rauschenberg had inspired him to use the photo-silkscreen printing technique, yet others argue that it was Warhol who invented the technique as a form of contemporary art. Regardless of the facts, which have proven difficult to straighten out, due to the lack of witnesses and the amount of time this meeting spans back to, the important outcome is, that, in the year 1962, both artists moved in a direction that proved to be groundbreaking for their own careers, and for the art scene at large. It was a time of bold experimentation, yet both artists never let go of the transferring technique.
The meeting itself was arranged by Ileana Sonnabend and Henry Geldzahler, and took place at Warhols’s apartment, which, at the time, functioned as Warhol’s studio, before he moved his works to his official studio, known as the Factory. Faurschou Foundation has been fortunate to borrow polaroids from the Warhol Museum, which were taken by Andy Warhol during the meeting in 1962, depicting Rauschenberg and Sonnabend. The point of the meeting was, indeed, a mutual interest in transfer techniques. As Rauschenberg was interested in Warhol’s progress in screen-printing, Warhol provided Rauschenberg with the name of his commercial screen maker, and, in exchange, Warhol received two photographs of Rauschenberg and his family, which Warhol used in a series of works. Faurschou Foundation is happy to include one of these works, titled Rauschenberg, in the exhibition.
Considering their fame and use of similar techniques, it is often assumed that Warhol and Rauschenberg were on rivalry terms. However, when delving into the story behind the development of the photo-based silkscreen techniques, it is clear that both artists respected one another. Moreover, Warhol used the silkscreen technique to emphasize mechanical methods, excluding the artist’s hand as much as possible. His silkscreens with multiple Marilyns, soup cans, baseball players etc. commented on the consumer society around him. Although Rauschenberg also commented on these surroundings through his transfer methods, he did so in a personal way, and in stark contrast to Warhol’s artistic intentions. With his first silkscreen painting, Renascence, 1962 – a genuine painting, in which each silkscreen is used just like a brushstroke, and where the title evokes overlapping meanings, such as “renaissance” (cultural movement) and “renascence” (rebirth) Rauschenberg paved the way for a new kind of art, as well as a new way of looking at things. We are delighted to reconnect Renascence with Venice more than half a century after Rauschenberg won the first Golden Lion prize at the Venice Biennale in recognition of his silkscreen paintings. This prize was not only a first for Rauschenberg, but the first to be awarded to the USA, as well.
Regarding Warhol and Rauschenberg’s personal relationship, it was, in fact, never a secret that Warhol deeply admired Rauschenberg. The latter, on the other hand, was known to have kept an overbearing distance from Warhol, especially at the beginning of their professional relationship. Nevertheless, the two artists remained in contact throughout their careers, and participated in several events, exhibitions and tours together, as the book “Us Silkscreeners…” highlights in an emblematic photograph by Christopher Makos, depicting both artists standing in front of the Pergamon Museum in Berlin in 1982. The photograph was taken during a group exhibition, in which both Warhol and Rauschenberg participated, exactly two decades after their fateful meeting in 1962.
Who Did What First?
Does it really matter? All the principal characters have passed on: Robert Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol, Ileana and Michael Sonnabend, David Bourdon. Why are we even having this debate, half a century after the fact?
I remember clearly that, sometime in the summer of 1963, Andy told me that he got the idea for using the silkscreen to make his paintings from Bob. I don’t remember how it came up in conversation.
It’s not like Andy was “the first” with everything. Thirty years after his death, he still gets credit for things he had no involvement in. For instance, photo booth shots I made of my friend Tony Kinna in Rome’s main post office in 1968 were attributed to Andy in an important auction house catalogue. In fact, Andy was in New York at the time. How on earth could he be in two places at once? Is there anything he hasn’t thought of?! Talk about “alternative facts.”
And why would he lie to me about the silkscreens? I disputed David Bourdon’s allegedly eyewitness account in his Warhol biography, regarding who said what to whom on the subject in the New York Times’ Letters to the Editor section in 1990. His Orwellian twist on the facts was Bourdon’s effort to make me look bad in order to bolster his credibility as an art historian and self-proclaimed protector of Andy’s fame.
First, there’s Bourdon’s account of Bob’s visit to Andy’s “studio” in September, 1962. In fact, Andy never had a studio until some time in January, 1963. Before that, he worked at home on the parquet floor of his livingroom.
It was in this very space, in Andy’s home, that the black-and-white snapshot was taken of the art dealers Ileana and Michael Sonnabend with Bob seated on a sofa in September, 1962. And it was during this visit that Bob must’ve casually remarked that he’d been experimenting with silkscreens in his recent work. This was likely the only time he ever visited Andy’s home. Quite amazing.
The livingroom was where Andy entertained friends and where he’d show off his latest canvases, already stretched and leaning against the wall, face up. The room measured something like 20 feet long by 12 feet across, and was already overflowing with his collection of Americana and stacks of magazines littering the floor and end tables. So, seating was always improvised and haphazard, with barely enough room to pull out a squeegee, let alone produce a silkscreen.
Bob could’ve easily picked up the idea for silkscreening during his Black Mountain College days. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’d even been a class taught in silkscreen design as part of the curriculum.
Andy, on the other hand, already had a reputation for lifting other people’s ideas and re-using them as his own. He was, you might say, a master appropriator. There’s nothing wrong with this. It became part of his art. It only goes to show that when Andy saw an opportunity, he ran with it; for Bob, silkscreening was of momentary interest and only one of many things in his bag of tricks.
As for my involvement, in June 1960, Leon Hecht, one of the leading textile designers of his day, hired me to work with his textile chemist, Charles Singer. We silkscreened 30 yards of pre-striped fabric for men’s ties for the entire summer. I was a quick learner, and I had fun. Three summers later, Andy hired me to work with him on his silkscreens.
As I’m drifting off I suddenly find myself a wide-eyed seventeen-year-old, younger than Rauschenberg and Warhol when I was introduced to the hand-held process of silkscreening, a process of turning photographs into painted photographs.
The summer of 1960 will always represent for me a summer of magical transformations and of a legacy passed on to me. I was ready to embrace the world of art.
- Often referred to as Andy Warhol’s most important associate, Gerard Malanga was involved in all phases of Warhol’s creative output in silkscreen painting and filmmaking, working closely with Warhol from 1963 to 1970, Malanga left Warhol’s studio to pursue his work in photography. He is the author of a dozen books of poetry spanning a nearly 50-year period, including his latest, Whisper Sweet Nothings & Other Poems. He has been the subject of a biography, Gerard Malanga, by Lars Movin, and co-authored Up-Tight: The Velvet Underground Story, with Victor Bockris. Malanga was born in the Bronx in 1943 and is presently working on his memoirs, In Remembrance of Things Past.
Renascence: Robert Rauschenberg’s Encounter with Andy Warhol’s Silkscreens
[In physical book only]
- Roni Feinstein has given lectures on Robert Rauschenberg at museums across the United States. She has published dozens of articles and essays on his work, including the catalogue for Robert Rauschenberg, The Silkscreen Paintings, 1962-64, which she curated for the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1990. Feinstein served for 7 years as Director of the Whitney Museum of American Art, Fairfield County, in the mid-1980s, and for the past 20 years, she has been working as an independent scholar extensively involved with teaching, curating and writing. Over the past 30 years, Roni Feinstein has lived and worked in South Florida, Toronto, Sydney, the New York area, and Southern California.
Extract from “‘An Invitation, Not a Command’ Silkscreen Paintings”
[In physical book only]
- Richard Meyer is Robert and Ruth Halperin Professor in Art History at Stanford University. His work focuses on the relation between the academic discipline of art history and the practice of museum curating. His first book, Outlaw Representation: Censorship and Homosexuality in Twentieth-Century American Art, was awarded the Charles C. Eldredge Prize for Outstanding Scholarship from the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Meyer has also served as guest curator for exhibitions, such as Warhol’s Jews: Ten Portraits Reconsidered at the Jewish Museum in New York and the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco, among others.
The Silkscreen Connection
In 1962, Andy Warhol realized one of his dreams he got Robert Rauschenberg to take him seriously. In the late 1950s, while working as a prolific illustrator for magazines and advertising agencies, Warhol had fantasized about befriending Jasper Johns and Rauschenberg, wanting desperately to be part of their circle which included representation by the Leo Castelli Gallery. Johns and Rauschenberg had written Warhol off as a commercial artist, even though they supported themselves as a window dressing duo for Tiffany, who went by the collective name “Matson Jones.” Hoping to ingratiate himself, Warhol even went as far as painting a number of portraits of Robert Rauschenberg. Now, things had come full circle. It was Rauschenberg who found himself pursuing a relationship with Warhol, lining up a studio visit through the curator Henry Geldzahler, to learn more about the silkscreen technique.
As Rauschenberg and Warhol went on to become major historical figures, there’s been much speculation over who came up with the idea of using photographs as a basis for silkscreen paintings, in lieu of using drawing-based silkscreens, to make art. The general consensus is that Warhol deserves this distinction, though there are some dissenters.
Not only was Warhol the first artist to utilize a commercial technique to make fine art, he took it to the next level when he switched from using a basic silkscreen, as seen in 200 One Dollar Bills, to a photo-silkscreen, utilized in Baseball. How interesting then, that not long after Rauschenberg visited Warhol’s studio to get some technical pointers, one of his earliest photo-silkscreen paintings, Brace, paid homage to his new “mentor” and America’s national pastime. Or did it?
Brace was emblematic of Rauschenberg and Warhol’s friendly rivalry. In Baseball, Warhol depicted the home run king Roger Maris. Though Rauschenberg also selected an image of Maris, it turned out to be a different pose. It makes you wonder whether Rauschenberg was honoring Warhol for introducing him to a new approach to painting. Or perhaps, just like in competitive sports, he was vying to come up with a superior visual image of the same subject. In 1961, the year before Baseball and Brace were executed, Roger Maris had broken the beloved Babe Ruth’s long-held home run record, upsetting many sports fans. Much was made of Maris hitting 61 home runs in 162 games, edging out the Babe, who slugged 60 dingers in what was once a 154 game season. Major league baseball put an asterisk next to Maris’s name in the record books. Now the question was whether Rauschenberg deserved one next to his.
Sometimes called a neo-Dadaist, Rauschenberg was known for juxtaposing unlikely objects, from a stuffed bald eagle to a stuffed old pillow, creating provocative visual connections within a painting. Warhol was also a gatherer of images. But his selections were less random. He was enthralled by celebrity film stills, newspaper photographs of current events, and consumer goods — images he repeatedly screened onto the same canvas. The transition from Rauschenberg’s Combines to his silkscreen paintings was aesthetically seamless. After eight years of producing Combines, Rauschenberg had grown restless. Though he loved scavenging for found objects, slathering them with paint and incorporating them onto the surface of his canvases, he was ready for a new challenge. As a matter of fact, another group of works, namely Rauschenberg’s classic transfer drawings, contributed to this new development in his art. This long-running group of works (1958-1968) were made by squirting lighter fluid over a magazine reproduction, which loosened the ink and allowed it to be rubbed onto a sheet of paper, leaving impressions which resembled faded tattoos.
One could argue that Rauschenberg had sought out Warhol, hoping to re-energize his painting. While no one knows exactly what transpired when they got together at the original Factory, in midtown Manhattan, it is safe to assume that Rauschenberg walked away ready to give silkscreening a try. His concept was to substitute found images for found objects. Rauschenberg continued to incorporate paint into his compositions, sometimes brushing colour over screened images, or occasionally rubbing them out with turpentine. The result was a rich hybrid of Abstract Expressionism and Pop art. As Rauschenberg grew more involved with the silkscreen process, he made his well-known comment to author and art critic, Calvin Tomkins, “Us silkscreeners got to stick together.” With “us”, Rauschenberg was referring to himself and Warhol. When considering this comment as a genuine statement, one could conclude that, according to Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol had finally arrived.
Though Rauschenberg’s black and white silkscreen paintings (1962-63) were exceptional, it was his efforts in colour (1963-64) that earned him the grand prize for painting at the 1964 Venice Biennale — an event that signaled the triumphant arrival of American art on the international stage. Rauschenberg embraced the optimism of the early 1960s. His paintings, such as Retroactive I and Retroactive II, celebrated America’s youthful president, John F. Kennedy. His canvas, Stop Gap, chronicled the country’s impressive scientific achievements, synonymous with the Mercury space capsule and astronauts walking in space. By contrast, Warhol had embarked on his “Death and Disaster” paintings, which featured another member of the Kennedy family: the recently widowed Jacqueline Kennedy. The intersection between Rauschenberg’s paintings depicting John F. Kennedy in his prime, and the small sub-set of Warhol Jackies that show JFK while he was still alive, standing in the background next to his glowing wife is especially poignant.
Once Warhol completed his Jackie portraits, he took a break from depicting carnage and destruction. He momentarily refocused his attention on celebrities, specifically Marilyn Monroe. Choosing Warhol’s most successful group of paintings is certainly open to debate, but in this writer’s opinion it was the Marilyns — hands down. Warhol’s original Marilyn series was painted in 1962. In 1964, Warhol completed five relatively large 40 x 40 inches (101.6 x 101.6 cm) Marilyns that may have been the strongest of the series. The irony is that even here, Warhol couldn’t get away from violence. One day, Dorothy Podber, a friend of the photographer Billy Name, arrived at the Factory. She spotted four Marilyn canvases stacked one in front of the other against a wall, and proceeded to pull a handgun from her purse and shoot a hole right between Ms. Monroe’s eyes — earning her a lifetime ban from the studio. These infamous pictures became known as the Shot Marilyns.
Given the significance of the Marilyn series, both in the development of Warhol’s silkscreen process and their place as historic icons, it was with great interest that a new discovery was made — Early Marilyn Thirty-Five Times — that could arguably be Warhol’s first foray into photo-silkscreening. Research revealed that it was likely an experimental piece. The story that I was able to reconstruct was that early in 1962, Warhol came upon a photograph of Marilyn Monroe taken by the well-known photojournalist, Bert Stern. Warhol was infatuated with her image, having collected nearly 1,000 photos of the movie star. After Warhol had a screen made of Stern’s portrait, he experimented with both the multi-image format and the photo-silkscreen process itself. The result was a painting that preceded Baseball, and other celebrity paintings of 1962, including Warren Beatty, Troy Donahue, and Natalie Wood.
During the second half of the 1960s, Warhol’s painting production diminished as he focused more on filmmaking. His Mum Voyeur self-portraits were his last hurrah before he was shot in 1968, and almost died. As for Rauschenberg, his post-silkscreen paintings evolved into “Photo-Transfer” canvases, where he employed vegetable dyes to print his photographic images onto canvas. While the colour was more realistic than the slightly garish silkscreens, which used the four-colour separation process, necessitating a red, yellow, blue, and black screen for each image, it lacked the medium’s unvarnished beauty. Lurking behind the scenes of both groups of paintings were Rauschenberg’s aforementioned earlier transfer drawings, which had preceded his silkscreen works.
Rauschenberg’s photo-transfer drawings brought a more elegant sensibility to his painting; gone were the smears and drips of the Silkscreens. Over time, Warhol’s pictures grew more refined, too. There was a shift from embracing accidents in the screening process to striving for more crisply screened subjects. What remained a constant was that Rauschenberg and Warhol continued to harvest images gleaned from the world around them.
While Warhol’s paintings peaked in the 1960s, and Rauschenberg’s may have too, both artists produced brilliant work late in their careers. In 1986, Warhol began to look inward, painting his famous Fright Wigs, perhaps his finest self-portraits. In 1997, Rauschenberg created the tour de force canvas Mirthday Man, a painting clogged with images that quoted his storied past, including his famous print Booster and its life-size x-ray of a human skeleton.
But what will forever yoke the two artists together in art history is a sense of camaraderie that no longer exists in the art world. A generosity of spirit pervaded Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol’s relationship and early work. They understood it was a win for the home team if either one of their silkscreen paintings received recognition. Can you envision, in today’s hyper-competitive art world, Jeff Koons visiting Julian Schnabel’s studio to talk shop and exchange pointers? Warhol and Rauschenberg’s connection represents something more than two great artists learning from each other. Their initial powwow was about art, not the art market.
While all of this may sound overly romantic, it was authentic. The remarkable paintings made by both artists, between 1962-1964, continue to thrill us. When Rauschenberg contacted Warhol to learn about the silkscreen process, it triggered a number of events that eventually led to his historic breakthrough in Venice. Rauschenberg returned the favour by welcoming Warhol to the acme of the contemporary art world — which became official when he joined Rauschenberg as a member of the Leo Castelli Gallery. As the expression goes, how cool is that?
- Richard Polsky is the author of I Bought Andy Warhol and The Art Market Guide (1995-1997), among a number of other books and articles focusing on the art market. He currently works as a contributor to Artnet magazine online, focusing on the financial aspects of each artist’s market in The Art Market Guide series. Since 1989 he has worked as a private dealer specializing in works by post-war artists, with an emphasis on Pop art. After a number of artist foundations decided to shutter their art authentication services, Richard Polsky launched Polsky’s Andy Warhol Art Authentication Service, a company devoted solely to authenticating the work of Andy Warhol. Recently, Polsky has extended his authentication services to Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Polsky currently lives in Sausalito, California.
· Leah Dickerman and Achim Borchardt-Hume, Robert Rauschenberg, Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2016.
· Roni Feinstein, Robert Rauschenberg: The Silkscreen Paintings 1962-64, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 1990.
· Georg Frei and Neil Printz, Warhol Paintings and Sculptures 1961-1963, Volume One, Phaidon, London, 2002.
· Calvin Tomkins, Off the Wall, Doubleday & Company, New York, 1980.
· Mikael Wivel, Robert Rauschenberg Mirthday Man, Faurschou Foundation, Copenhagen, 2009.
Who’s on First: Warhol, Rauschenberg, Silkscreen, and Baseball in 1962
[In physical book only]
- Barry Blinderman is a curator of contemporary art, educator, and essayist. He has been the director of University Galleries of Illinois State University since 1987. From 1980-87, he directed Semaphore Gallery and Semaphore EAST in Soho and the East Village, respectively. Blinderman’s essays have been published in books on Walter Robinson, Danica Phelps, Jeanne Dunning, Martin Wong, Tseng Kwong Chi, and others. One of his first published reviews on Warhol’s Ten Jews series at the Jewish Museum led to his interview with Warhol in 1981, which has since been republished and quoted in various other articles and anthologies. As director of University Galleries, Blinderman curated the first U.S. museum surveys for David Wojnarowicz, Walter Robinson, Michelle Grabner, Jane Dickson, Keith Haring, Jeanne Dunning, Tony Tasset, and others.
Bob Rauschenberg “vs.” Andy Warhol
Well, not really… Most art aficionados know that I had a much closer relationship with Andy than with Bob. The trip that we all took together to Berlin in 1982, however, made me much more aware of Bob, and made me get to know him on more personal terms. This is my story about being “on the road” with two great artists.
The Bob I knew was just as intense as Andy, it turned out, and I learned this during the trip to Berlin, through many wake-up calls to my room, with invitations for an early morning cocktail.
I have always heard about some of the 1950’s artists liking a good cocktail here and there, but at 10 in the morning? That was a bit of a stretch for me. Mind you, not that I am not proud, or judgmental of anyone’s way of life, but I did feel a 10 AM call to share a cocktail for the mini bar from the Hotel Adlon was a road too far for me to travel.
I came to know Bob Rauschenberg primarily through my friendship with Andy Warhol during the 1970’s and 80’s. I will relate how I saw their friendship close at hand, while travelling with Warhol and Rauschenberg to Berlin in 1982 for the Sammlung Marx exhibition, Beuys Rauschenberg Twombly Warhol, at the Nationalgalerie Berlin.
During this famous trip – and I use the word “famous,” mostly because the group did not only include Bob and Andy, but also Joseph Beuys – travel was the key word. For instance, we visited the set of the drama film, Querelle, where I met the German movie director, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, along with the actor, Brad Davis. Querelle was to be Fassbinder’s last film before he died. As such, this trip turned out to be an entire Berlin-experience, led by the heavy-weights of the contemporary art scene.
Whether we were passing through Check Point Charlie, which was the only way to get from West Berlin to East Berlin in 1982, being on the set of Querelle, or at The Pergamon Museum, the trip was full of cocktail parties, dinners, and receptions.
What I remember most about the trip was that I was in the company of three superstars, who seemed to be getting along quite well, without the usual nonsense of who might be the bigger art star. It seemed to me that there was an equal playing field. Andy did bemoan the fact that there was always a waiting list for a Bob Rauschenberg artwork, but Andy was not resentful, and Bob had a very upbeat and positive energy about him. On that trip, Bob was ready for anything – a spirit that brought out the adventurous side of Andy. There is a misconception about Andy, that he was shy, introverted and somehow weak. He did give off that appearance, but, inside, he was very strong and determined. During the Berlin trip I saw Bob and Andy as two veterans who had survived and built great careers. They had both known fame early on. They both had phases where they were unsure which direction to take regarding their work.
Consequently, this trip was not, in fact, the year of “living dangerously.” Travelling to East Berlin to visit the Pergamon Museum had a special meaning to all of us. Berlin was still divided into Communist East Berlin, which was part of East Germany, and Democratic West Berlin, an outpost of West Germany, separated by the Berlin Wall. Check Point Charlie was the only gate in the wall, where Westerners could legally pass through.
During 1982, the year of the trip to Berlin, Andy had created works, such as his Dollar Sign series, portraits of Alexander the Great, Goethe, and Jane Fonda, and, a couple of years earlier, in 1980, he did his portrait of Joseph Beuys. Meanwhile, that same year of 1982, Bob was producing works like Watermelon Medley, Solar Elephant, Global Chute, all of which were either collages, assemblages or a combination of the former with paintings. Bob’s works did not stand in direct contrast to either Andy’s or Beuys’ – Instead, by bringing together the art made by all three artists at the time, these works represented a certain period. It was this period in time that was represented in Berlin.
Both Andy and Bob dealt with the notion of celebrity in different ways. From an early age, Andy was completely enamored with the stars of Hollywood. His first star-crush was, notably, America’s sweetheart, Shirley Temple. From the very beginning of Andy’s famous Factory studio, Andy’s works constantly dealt with the cult of personality – whether it was his screen tests, or his fascination with still photography, of which I played a mentoring role from 1976 to 1986.
Bob’s ideas revolving around “celebrity” were quite the opposite of Andy’s, as his notion of celebrity was the idea that his work was a celebrity in itself. This is not to say that Andy did not consider his celebrity portraits a direct connection to the celebrity world – However, Bob was more content with the separation of “church and state,” so to speak.
Andy and Bob were both open to young artists, and each found ways to engage with the next generation. I introduced Andy to my “downtown” New York friends, such as Debbie Harry from the band, Blondie, Keith Haring, and Jean Michel Basquiat – two graffiti artists who were transitioning from working on the streets to working in the studio. Andy and Basquiat worked together on a series of collaborative paintings. When Basquiat needed studio space, Andy rented a building on Great Jones Street to Basquiat, and then complained about what a messy tenant Basquiat was. Andy was very generous with his contacts, introducing young artists and musicians to his circle of gallery owners, producers and international arts and society figures. This helped boost the careers of many younger artists substantially, including myself.
Rauschenberg had a long history of collaborating with musicians and dancers. The works he created with John Cage, Merce Cunningham and Tricia Brown are recognized as some of the seminal works of 20th Century American dance. In 1990, Bob established a foundation to further his vision of art as something that can be beneficial to mankind, now known as the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation.
One thing I noticed about Bob and Andy on the Berlin trip was their interest in travel, in seeing new things and their openness to the influences of new and foreign experiences. They were among the first artists to exhibit their works around the world, including non-Western countries.
More than most artists of their time, Bob and Andy used photography extensively. In the early stages of his career as a contemporary artist, Andy appropriated a number of images in his works, as with his Marilyn portraits, his car crash series, and his Elvis series. In Bob’s case, it was the random selection of media that interested him most, and his choices became what ultimately defined a final piece of art.
Andy’s choices always seemed much more deliberate and celebrity-focused. For instance, one of the reasons Andy founded Interview Magazine, was so that he could receive invitations to movie screenings – Something that I am sure did not interest Bob in the least. I find it interesting that Bob and Andy, who grew up during a similar period, found different paths, but that both ultimately ended up as wildly successful 20th century artists.
During the late 1970’s and early 80’s, both Warhol and Rauschenberg sought new ways to work in the studio, to re-examine and reinvent the themes that had been of life-long interest to them. Photography had always been important to Andy and Bob, and, during the 1980s, they each returned to photography in new ways. After a period of using appropriated images, Bob started incorporating his own photographs, typically into works he had completed at an earlier time. He also began experimenting with the transfer of photographic images onto different materials, and pushing the boundaries of what a photographic image can contain, and how light, reflection, and material texture can be manipulated to create something new. Andy was doing similar experimentation with a series of images of newspaper pages, screened onto Mylar, and then crumpled them up. During this period, Andy was taking photos continuously, not just of people in the studio for use in his portraiture, but also of objects and landscapes.
I am often asked “Why is Warhol still so popular?” The simple answer, Andy did not really reference anything about Europe or the old world. His references are, and were quintessentially American – American values, American sensibilities, the American way of life. Since the American brand is known worldwide, the piggy-backing of Warhol’s work truly functions as a built-in publicity factor. Andy Warhol’s immense catalogue raisonné, alone, can, of course, be seen as a proof of his works standing the test of time – However, it is the references that keep the image – and world – of Warhol most strongly in the present tense.
Concurrently, the Faurschou Foundation exhibition, “US Silkscreeners…” could have a double meaning. “Us” silkscreeners, or “U.S.,” as in the “United States,” seem to only validate that both meanings are direct references to Bob and Andy’s work, and how they saw their worlds in a parallel universe. Bob, with his intense use of paint, photography, and found objects, and Andy with his intense use of the photo-based silkscreen technique throughout his career. What I witnessed on our trip to Berlin was a friendship between two of the greatest American artists, which was not particularly close, but based on many shared experiences, and an unspoken mutual respect. The 1982 trip to Berlin was a chance for Andy and Bob to enjoy some well-earned recognition. In my eyes, they were just two people who, for the moment, were at ease with each other and the world. I look at my photograph of them together at the Pergamon Museum, and I think how very fortunate I was to have been part of the fun.
- Christopher Makos is an American photographer and artist. As a close friend of Andy Warhol’s and frequent portrait subject, Andy Warhol is known to have called Makos “the most modern photographer in America.” His photographs have been exhibited in galleries and museums such as the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, the Tate Modern in London, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, among many others. He has authored several books focusing on Andy Warhol, such as Warhol/Makos In Context, and Andy Warhol China 1982. Christopher Makos was born 1948 in Lowell, Massachusetts, grew up in California, and apprenticed with photographer Man Ray in Paris, before returning to live and work in the United States.
Robert Rauschenberg & Andy Warhol
Faurschou Foundation in Venice
12.05.17 – 27.08.17
Curious Matter / Andina Grey 380g
Munken / Lynx 150g
Special thanks to lenders:
Galerie Andrea Carratsch
The team at Faurschou Foundation
Faurschou Foundation has made every effort to clear the proper copyright material produced in this book
ISBN – 978-87-91706-09-7