"Glorious fabrics" of Indian poor drape Rauschenberg UK art show

Fri Feb 15, 2013 11:37am EST
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By Alice Baghdjian

LONDON (Reuters) - Robert Rauschenberg's fabrics in electric blues and rich reds pop from the sterile walls of the Gagosian Gallery in London in a show of one of the American artist's lesser-known collections which curators hope will lure a new generation to his work.

"Jammers", named after the Windjammer merchant sailing ships, conjures the exotic with vibrant textiles draped, looped and layered across walls and around rattan poles.

The creation of the works marked a change in style from Rauschenberg's best known collection "Combines", built with detritus from the streets of New York, and followed the late artist's trip to India in 1975 when he spent time with a family of textile dyers.

"Bob (Rauschenberg) said the combination of the poverty and the squalor in India combined with the absolute flamboyance of the colors was something that was a revelation to him," David White, senior curator of the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, told Reuters this week.

"Amid the poverty there would be one of the lowest castes, poor people, with a sari of bright, bright pink and he said that gave him the permission to deal with just the fabrics and celebrate the gloriousness of them," White said.

This combination is reflected in Rauschenberg's palette of opulent fabrics and the austerity of the poles, string and tin cans that form each individual "jammer", White said.

Squares of white pearlescent silk contrasted with matte, royal blue fabric are pinned loosely from the wall, next to tin cans suspended on strings from wooden poles.

"It's really celebrating the fabrics themselves," White said.   Continued...