By Thomas Frederick Folland
Robert Rauschenberg's painted, sculptural assemblages of came across gadgets, photographic reproductions, print and upholstery fabrics have bothered paintings heritage of their refusal to yield any coherency of shape or which means. Monogram , 1955-59, is likely one of the final of Robert Rauschenberg's major "Combines," and it truly is no exception: it's an outlandish concoction that includes a crammed angora goat squeezed via a rubber tire and status on a wooden platform of collaged fabric. it sort of feels to be, actually, a funny story. The paint-smeared snout of the goat is attribute of the gestural abstraction of the hot York college, yet instead of flattened out onto an expanse of canvas, the brushwork is the outermost aspect of a truly theatrical and heterogeneous assemblage of stumbled on gadgets. may perhaps it no longer be argued, even if, that this "joke" may perhaps in reality be a part of a bigger problem to modernism that constituted whatever 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 better target of this dissertation is to re-read mid-century modernism and its narratives that experience coalesced round this era. Navigating during the predominate strands of Rauschenberg scholarship, this dissertation seeks to problematize the principally postmodern examining of Rauschenberg, during which his work's seeming illegibility has lengthy been noticeable as a critique of modernist illustration. however it additionally questions the new new wave of paintings heritage that has sought to find mounted buildings of homosexual id in Rauschenberg's paintings via a conventional iconographical strategy. Mobilizing either the questions of illegibility and identification, Rauschenberg's inventive perform is outlined queerly as a sort of resistance to dominant modes of subjectivity inaugurated throughout the painterly discourse of the hot York university. Weaving the tropes of decorativeness, theatricality and a camp aesthetic via a variety 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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Additional info for Robert Rauschenberg's Queer Modernism: Decoration, Theatricality and Camp in the Combines, 1953--59
Canyon (Fig. 37) has been learn as an immediate connection with Rembrandt's Rape of Ganymede, 1636; the homoerotic Greek story of abduction of a formative years by way of the god Zeus. It most likely is. The fragmented components of this mix comprise a crammed chook (Zeus had remodeled himself right into a chook to hold off the early life) with outstretched wings that appear to boost off from a small opened field on the backside of the canvas. A pillow hangs down from the reduce correct, suspended by means of a strip of fabric that squeezes the pillow in part. the common historical past of collaged fabric the following 12 Charles Stuckey, "Reading Rauschenberg," seventy nine. Stuckey's evaluate of the nationwide number of tremendous Arts retrospective that toured in 1977 and 1978 used to be the 1st try to soak up the query of iconography within the Combines. 116 includes a photo of a small seated boy with arm outstretched (usually pointed out as Rauschenberg's son Christopher). In either those works—Odalisk and Canyon—rather than simply reference a masterpiece from the canon of Western artwork via copy as he had performed ahead of, Rauschenberg selected to re-create them in ersatz mode and during the main pedestrian of kinds culled from mass tradition. Reconstructing masterpieces and myths in such shape as Rauschenberg did makes them ridiculous and it truly is probably no ask yourself that the Combines at this era have been greeted with bemusement, outright laughter or sheer incomprehensibility. certainly, that would actually were the purpose: to render the items of excessive tradition, the opprobrious weight of ecu tradition (the standard-bearer of seriousness and fulfillment for a nonetheless quite provincial American artwork global within the Nineteen Fifties self-consciously conscious of its newly minted prestige the world over because the hub of modem art), not anything greater than the made from kitsch, re-directing their signifiers in the context of yankee portray. it's a camp archeology of modernist portray. Camp "converts the intense into the frivolous," Susan Sontag may argue in her 1964 essay—the first immense remedy of the idea that or "sensibility" as she placed it, its equipment being irony, undesirable flavor, and kitsch. thirteen certainly, it was once this very frivolity that condemned camp for a very long time to the area of the ineffectual and the apolitical. yet greater than a sensibility decreased to the apolitical posturing of a gay tradition of the Nineteen Fifties and 1960s—a tradition, it may be mentioned, from which it'd be disengaged in Sontag's essay—camp functioned as a pointed political weapon introduced at a thirteen Susan Sontag, "Notes on 'Camp'" Partisan overview 31:4 (Fall 1964): 515-530. Reprinted in Cleto, Camp: Queer Aesthetics and the acting topic, 53-65. Quotations are from Cleto. 117 dominant mode of bourgeois male heterosexuality. Esther Newton's 1972 learn of Drag Queen tradition mom Camp pointed out 3 crucial beneficial properties or issues "in any specific campy factor or occasion. the 3 that appeared such a lot recurrent and attribute to me," she indicates, "were incongruity, theatricality and humor," all of that have been invoked in a parody of mainstream femininity and masculinity.