One of the most celebrated of Rauschenberg’s silkscreen paintings, Retroactive II is full of visual urgency: images of John F. Kennedy (who was assassinated just after Rauschenberg ordered the screen), a parachuting NASA astronaut, and industrial cues such as machine parts all create a sense of immediacy and American power. It is one of around 80 screenprints, Rauschenberg made between the autumn of 1962 and the spring of 1964.
213.4 x 152.4 cm
Date of work
Original: Oil and silkscreen ink on canvas 213.4 x 152.4 cm Collection, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, partial gift of Stefan T. Edlis and H. Gael Neeson, 1998.49 Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago © Robert Rauschenberg Foundation/ DACS
One of the most influential figures of twentieth-century art, Robert Rauschenberg was a pioneering artist who ultimately challenged perceptions of what art could be. Born in Texas in 1925 he later moved to New York, where he created many of his best-known works. Endlessly curious and inventive, his work ranged from painting and sculpture to performance and dance. His refusal to accept existing boundaries of what was considered art led him to continually experiment with new techniques, from innovative printing methods to incorporating found objects and detritus in his works. This radical approach prefigured pop art and inspired generations of conceptual artists in the decades that followed.