Oil, cardboard, wood, and metal on canvas
108 x 240 inches (274.3 x 609.6 cm)
Gift of Seymour H. Knox, Jr., 1963
Robert Rauschenberg and many other New York avant-garde artists in the 1950s often lacked money to buy supplies. Rauschenberg solved this problem, in part, by wandering the streets and collecting found objects, which he incorporated into his work. He called these pieces "combines," referring to the fact that they were combinations of painting and sculpture, and art and life.
Ace is one of his later combines, and includes various items he collected on the streets of New York, including a piece of denim, a broken umbrella, wood with letters, crumpled metal, cardboard, and a can. The found objects are combined with painted areas of solid color and sections created with more energetic strokes.
The title is spelled out in the upper left hand corner, an "R" appears in the lower left, and the letters "auschenberg" can be found near the lower right. The "R" links up with the letters that complete the artist’s last name; it may also be connected with "ACE," since the pieces match in wood type, color, and font. The resulting word—"RACE"—calls to mind several aspects of urban life in the 1960s, from Civil Rights to the "rat race."
Related Lesson Plan
Art for Remembering (For Grades K–12)
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