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Famous Robert Rauschenberg Prints

Robert Rauschenberg was an American painter and graphic artist whose early works anticipated the Pop art movement. Rauschenberg is well known for his Combines, a group of artworks which incorporated everyday objects as art materials and which blurred the distinctions between painting and sculpture. Rauschenberg produced many prints during his life time; the following prints are generally regarded to be two of his most famous.


Sky Garden, Robert Rauschenberg

Robert Rauschenberg included astronauts in his 1964 silkscreen paintings while the space was in its infancy and by 1969, with man walking on the Moon, space flight was a reality that inspired Rauschenberg with the potential for collaboration between man and technology.

In July of 1969, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) invited Rauschenberg to Cape Canaveral to witness the launch of the momentous Apollo 11 mission and granted him unrestricted access to the grounds and facilities. This allowed Rauschenberg to closely explore the facilities and meet with scientists. Rauschenberg also gained access to official photographs and technical documents.


Robert Rauschenberg Prints: Sky Garden
Sky Garden, 1969, lithograph and screen print, Robert Rauschenberg

The visit instilled a renewed sense of optimism in Rauschenberg with all that was going on with Vietnam war. Describing Nasa’s mission, Rauschenberg commented “The whole project seemed one of the only things at that time that was not concerned with war and destruction.” Rauschenberg’s Stoned Moon series (1969-70) was a testament to that sense of hope, particularly poignant in the tumultuous context of the late 1960s, defined by civil rights movements and anti-war protests against the Vietnam War.

To create the prints, Rauschenberg collaged transferred photographs supplied by NASA, discovering that if he soaked reproductions from magazines in lighter fluid he could transfer them on to paper by rubbing the back with a dry pen nib. The imagery juxtaposes the technology of the booster rocket in red with the natural surroundings of Cape Canaveral in blue and green, echoing the sensory overload experienced as one witnessed the Apollo 11 launch. Sky Garden is one of the largest lithographs in the series, at an astonishing 89 inches in height and was the largest hand-pulled lithograph ever created when it was printed in 1969.


Signs, Robert Rauschenberg

In 1970 Rauschenberg created the collage Signs that he felt summarised the upheaval of the 1960s. With the image of astronaut Buzz Aldrin symbolising the optimism of the 1969 Moon landing, other figures used symbolised the turmoil of the preceding decade.


Robert Rauschenberg Prints: Sign
Signs, 1970, screenprint, Robert Rauschenberg


Three assassinated figures,  John F. Kennedy (1963), Martin Luther King, Jr. (1968) and Bobby Kennedy (1968), highlighted the destruction of the political optimism during the 1960s. The image of Janis Joplin emphasised the loss of young talent in the music industry as rock stars partied themselves to death – Joplin having died of an overdose in October of 1970 right before Rauschenberg created the print. Rauschenberg used others images that showed urban violence, the Vietnam War, and a peace vigil – all descriptions of the chaos of the 1960s.


Robert Rauschenberg prints

Browse Robert Rauschenberg prints available from leading galleries.