By Thomas Frederick Folland
Robert Rauschenberg's painted, sculptural assemblages of discovered items, photographic reproductions, print and upholstery fabrics have bothered paintings background of their refusal to yield any coherency of shape or that means. Monogram , 1955-59, is without doubt one of the final of Robert Rauschenberg's major "Combines," and it truly is no exception: it really is an outlandish concoction that includes a crammed angora goat squeezed via a rubber tire and status on a wooden platform of collaged fabric. it kind of feels to be, in truth, a comic story. The paint-smeared snout of the goat is attribute of the gestural abstraction of the recent York college, yet instead of flattened out onto an expanse of canvas, the brushwork is the outermost element of a really theatrical and heterogeneous assemblage of came upon items. may possibly it no longer be argued, despite the fact that, that this "joke" may perhaps in reality be a part of a bigger problem to modernism that constituted anything way more severe? That problem is argued in my dissertation to be a queer critique of the tradition of modernism within the postwar decade of the 1950s.
The higher aim of this dissertation is to re-read mid-century modernism and its narratives that experience coalesced round this era. Navigating throughout the predominate strands of Rauschenberg scholarship, this dissertation seeks to problematize the mostly postmodern examining of Rauschenberg, within which his work's seeming illegibility has lengthy been obvious as a critique of modernist illustration. however it additionally questions the new new wave of paintings historical past that has sought to find mounted constructions of homosexual identification in Rauschenberg's paintings via a standard iconographical technique. Mobilizing either the questions of illegibility and identification, Rauschenberg's creative perform is outlined queerly as a sort of resistance to dominant modes of subjectivity inaugurated in the course of the painterly discourse of the hot York tuition. Weaving the tropes of decorativeness, theatricality and a camp aesthetic via a number of and overlapping groupings of Combines produced in the course of the Fifties, Rauschenberg's modernism is redefined as a queer one.
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Extra info for Robert Rauschenberg's Queer Modernism: Decoration, Theatricality and Camp in the Combines, 1953--59
At the present, the purported neo-Dada label can be larger understood as nascent camp, its parodic dating to heterosexual identification configured via abstraction was once accurately was once at stake within the paintings lower than dialogue the following. The camp measurement of Rauschenberg's neo-Dada use of kitsch is certain by means of context—specifically the heroic male avant-gardism of Nineteen Fifties modernism. different artists have been after all operating in an analogous vein, the nouveau realists in France for instance (and pointed out as neo-avantgarde in Peter Burger's influential idea of the Avant-Garde), however it is the the most important context of a overdue Nineteen Fifties American modernism in decline within which Rauschenberg's camp Combines emerge. Camp Mythologies it really is possibly no accident that Roland Barthes started his personal research into the signifying stipulations of bourgeois identification and pop culture in the course of the overdue Nineteen Fifties with the 1957 book of his publication Mythologies, a set of essays that queried the patron good judgment of ads. during this selection of essays that ranged from meditations on an iconic photo of Greta Garbo to French kid's toys and ads, Barthes sought to foreground the semiotic procedure wherein pictures at the point of denotation have been became sigmfieds at the point of connotation (a bottle of purple wine on a checkered tablecloth with grapes, for instance, turns into re-routed right into a signifier of "Italian-ness," or a black soldier saluting the French flag turns into lifted from its in basic terms literal point right into a signal of "nationalism"). sixty one In doing so, Mythologies 60 Roland Barthes, Mythologies, trans. Annette Lavers (New York: Hill and Wang, 1957). sixty one it's going to be famous that Barthes later brushed off this dichotomy among denotation and connotation by means of arguing all symptoms have been, at middle, completely connotative, that's, that every one which means is traditional or a hundred and forty four undertook the venture of unmasking the naturalness of cultural indicators, parallel to, i might recommend, Rauschenberg's personal undertaking of destabilizing the gendered varieties of modernist portray in big apple during the incorporation of discarded gadgets. in spite of the fact that, Barthes' paintings was once ruled through the good judgment of structuralism with its roots within the structural anthropology of Claude Levi-Strauss. Mythologies was once keen on unearthing a deeper social good judgment to the nefarious gadgets of commodity tradition. Mythologies took kitsch heavily. Camp will be against such common sense, who prefer as a substitute the world of nonsense that Dada favorite. Rauschenberg's paintings sought to ruin that common sense, to render it meaningless and adrift in a sea of signification. And as such, the campiness of the Combines the place Greek legend is mixed with the main pedestrian varieties of commodity tradition endured the queer tactic i've been pursuing in his paintings of the Fifties within which the surety of id, figured abstractly in the course of the heroic American portray stream of the Nineteen Fifties comes less than assault. introduced extra largely on the area of excessive tradition in often-parodic phrases, a lot of those Combines adopt the very unmasking of the connection among signifier and signified germane to Barthes' Mythologies.