John (from the Ruminations series)
© Robert Rauschenberg Foundation and ULAE / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY, Published by Universal Limited Art Editions
Overlapping images of an old automobile's front end with a young John Cage sitting and standing beside it on the right.
Rauschenberg was a student at Black Mountain College for the 1948–1949 and 1951–1952 academic sessions and for the 1951 and 1952 summers. In the Ruminations series he celebrates individuals of importance in his life. Topher, named for his and Susan Weil’s son, Christopher, is a family portrait using a combination of photographs taken at different times and places to create complex time-space relationships. A pregnant Weil turns her face away in contemplation and repose. Christopher reaches for his mother,a pose evocativeof Christ-child depictions. Rauschenberg’s face expresses joyful anticipation. In summer 1952 he and composer John Cage formed a close friendship that was to be the vehicle for shared influence and collaboration. Intrigued and emboldened by Rauschenberg’s White Paintings, in New York City in August 1952 Cage composed his silent piece, 4’33”. Just as Rauschenberg demonstrates in the White Paintings that the “blank” surface is interactive with its surroundings, ambient sounds are the “score” in the silent piece. In John the significance of the 1952 summer is celebrated in the use of two portraits of Cage, both made at the college. The Museum was gifted a complete suite of all 9 prints in the Ruminationsseries, edition 3/46, in 2020 by William Newton in honor of Ladene Newton on her 80th birthday.
Exhibition Title: Asheville Art Museum: An Introduction to the Collection
Label Date: 2020
Type: Object Entry
Written by: Mary Emma Harris
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