Robert Rauschenberg’s approach to art was exceedingly innovative, often resulting in works that elude categorization. His collaborations with printmakers, for example, did not always yield traditional results. The artist’s self-portrait Booster exemplifies his highly experimental approach to the medium. Here, Rauschenberg brings together a seemingly disparate collection of imagery: a life-sized X-ray portrait of himself, an astrological chart, pictures of athletes taken from magazines, and images of a chair and two power drills. By combining the processes of lithography and screen printing, the artist, together with master printmaker Kenneth Tyler, radically expanded the aesthetic possibilities of planographic printmaking, which utilizes a flat, as opposed to a raised, surface. At the time of its creation, Booster was the largest and most technically sophisticated hand-pulled print ever produced, and it catapulted printmaking into a new era of experimentation.
Label from Giant Steps: Artists and the 1960s, June 30–December 30, 2018