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On View

Floor 6

Collection Galleries

Artist

Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008)

Title

Satellite

Date

1955

Medium

Oil, fabric, paper and wood on canvas with taxidermied pheasant

Dimensions

Overall: 79 3/8 × 43 5/16 × 5 5/8 in. (201.6 × 110 × 14.3 cm)

Credit line

Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Gift of Claire B. Zeisler and purchase with funds from the Mrs. Percy Uris Purchase Fund

Accession number

91.85

Object Label

Satellite is a “combine,” Robert Rauschenberg’s term for the hybrid form of painting, sculpture, and collage he created between 1954 and 1964. The combines are freestanding structures and wall-bound reliefs in which Rauschenberg joined the improvisatory brushwork of Abstract Expressionism with an exuberant proliferation of collaged and found elements. Satellite includes a painted, stuffed pheasant, which struts on the top right edge of a human-sized pallet containing images and flattened objects such as newspaper comics, doilies, and a pair of socks. “A pair of socks,” Rauschenberg later asserted, “is no less suitable to make a painting with than wood, nails, turpentine, oil, and fabric.” Neither in Satellite nor in the other combines did Rauschenberg choose elements to convey a particular meaning. Meaning resides in the combination of elements, which expressed his response to postwar American society. “I was bombarded with TV sets and magazines, by the refuse, by the excess of the world. . .I thought that if I could paint or make an honest work, it should incorporate all of these objects, which were and are a reality.”

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