Curator of European and American Art Theresa Papanikolas put our all-star modern artwork on view in our Temporary Exhibition Gallery 10. Modern Masters includes Robert Rauschenberg’s Trophy V (for Jasper Johns), a work that artist/educator/docent Marcia Morse thinks warrants a good 25 years of sustained looking. Haven’t seen it in a while? Get a gander while it’s up (til Oct. 28). Here’s a refresher from the painting’s label:
In the 1950s, Robert Rauschenberg pioneered the idea that painting should not be categorized as a purely two-dimensional art form, and he helped break the traditional boundaries between sculpture and painting by creating works that joined both, a form he called “combines.” Trophy V (for Jasper Johns) is an example of a combine, composed of freely painted areas and three-dimensional objects either attached to or set into the canvas. By selecting banal objects from contemporary life, Rauschenberg demonstrated that ordinary entities are worthy of aesthetic consideration.
Rauschenberg’s use of recognizable subjects made him a transitional link, along with Jasper Johns, between Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art. The two artists were great friends, and this work is a tribute to Johns. The characteristically “painted out” cardboard box, the grey tones, and the small map of the United States wittily allude to Johns’s own work.
See a video of former museum director James Foster and museum trustee and UH art professor emeritus Duane Preble discussing the work (Mr. Foster explains how Mr. and Mrs. Frederick R. Weisman came to give the combine to the museum!):