Robert Rauschenberg and many of his contemporaries often lacked the money they needed to buy supplies. He partly solved this problem by collecting found objects to use as materials in his work. The artist referred to the resulting amalgamations of painting, sculpture, art, and life as “combines.” This work includes various items he gathered from the streets of New York, including a piece of denim, a broken umbrella, a wooden sign with letters, crumpled metal, cardboard, and a can. Rauschenberg united these objects with areas of solid color as well as those that evoke the energetic strokes of Abstract Expressionism. The title, Ace, is spelled out in the upper left–hand corner. The “R” that appears in the lower left can be linked to the “auschenberg” near the lower right to form the artist's last name. The wood type, color, and font of the “R” match those of “ACE,” suggesting a second connection. The resulting word—”RACE”—brings to mind numerous social and political developments of the 1960s, such as the Civil Rights movement and the Space Race.
Label from Giant Steps: Artists and the 1960s, June 30–December 30, 2018