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A patchwork of materials that had another life before, that is Airport Series: Cat Paws by Robert Rauschenberg.
© Robert Rauschenberg Foundation / SABAM, Belgium, 2019
A patchwork of materials that had another life before, that is Airport Series: Cat Paws by Robert Rauschenberg.
© Robert Rauschenberg Foundation / SABAM, Belgium, 2019

Robert Rauschenberg
Airport Series: Cat Paws, 1874

Is there art in the banal?

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In the gap between the two — or would it be better to talk about a bridge? — we rediscover collages and so-called ‘combines’ (assemblies) by Robert Rauschenberg.

As early as the 1950s, the artist is turning away from the myth-making surrounding abstract painting to embrace fully the cacophony of everyday life again.

However, that does not mean that he returns to a style of painting that faithfully represents reality. On the contrary, his works of art are literally part of the split reality to which they refer: a constant avalanche of images and material. At least that much is clear when we incorporate ‘Airport Series: Cat Paws’.

We see a patchwork of rags and crown caps, waste materials that once led a different life. This printed Rauschenberg with a few undefined newspaper clippings and images represents our unbridled consumer culture.

Alongside reality itself, however, the natural creativity of the artist and especially his surrender to chance also turn these fragments into a whole. Apart from which, it gave the series its title: he signed the series in a hotel room with a view of the runway, a question of the right place at the right time. The same applies to the many other items that the artist gathered on the street before he gave them new life in his installations.