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Canberra Today 6°/7° | Friday, July 1, 2022 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

At the dawn of a new avant-garde

Robert Rauschenberg, “Publicon – Station IV,” 1979 and Publicon – “Station I,” 1979, installation view

“RAUSCHENBERG & Johns: Significant Others”, a new exhibition depicting one of North America’s most important artistic dialogues, has opened at the National Gallery.

Showing how, at the height of the Abstract expressionist movement, a new avant-garde began to materialise from the same-sex relationship between two young artists, Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns.

Together from 1953 to 1961, when same-sex relationships were illegal in the US, the couple was forced to navigate their expression of their sexuality within a society that didn’t accept them.

Drawn from the NGA’s huge Kenneth Tyler Collection, the show  brings together print and multimedia works by both artists, including Rauschenberg’s “Booster” masterpiece and Johns’ “Color,” displayed alongside key works by their predecessors and contemporaries such as Duchamp and Magritte.

Curator David Greenhalgh says: “The success of both Rauschenberg and Johns is a result of them being an audience to each other. While their relationship would end after seven years, their art would continue to radiate the new ideas of their creative exchange.”

Rauschenberg and Johns helped reshape American printmaking, working with the celebrated printmaker Kenneth Tyler to create ground-breaking works in lithography and screen-printing, as seen in the exhibition.

“Rauschenberg & Johns: Significant Others”, until October 30.

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Helen Musa

Helen Musa

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