Robert Rauschenberg

American (Port Arthur, Texas, 1925 - 2008, Captiva, Florida)


drawing | acrylic, graphite, paper bags, and envelopes on paper
Not on view at this time; find out where you can see works from our collection at locations around the Bay Area while our building is closed for expansion
  • Untitled

    Robert Rauschenberg, Untitled, 1973; acrylic, graphite, paper bags, and envelopes on paper, 72 in. x 60 in. (182.88 cm x 152.4 cm); Collection SFMOMA, Gift of the Frederick Weisman Company; © Robert Rauschenberg Foundation / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY; photo: Ben Blackwell

  • Detail of Robert Rauschenberg's Untitled (1973) showing a collaged bag and string-tie closure

    Robert Rauschenberg, Untitled, 1973 (detail)

  • Detail of Robert Rauschenberg's Untitled (1973) showing central fold

    Robert Rauschenberg, Untitled, 1973 (detail)

  • Installation view of Robert Rauschenberg's Untitled (1973), SFMOMA, 1999

    Installation view of Untitled (1973) in Robert Rauschenberg, SFMOMA, May 7–September 7, 1999


Although found objects are a hallmark of Robert Rauschenberg’s work, this paper collage from 1973 disguises the found with the created. Paper bags and envelopes have lost their crisp forms, instead appearing like painted components in this deceptively simple work composed in shades of white, tan, and gold, with one vivid pop of red-orange. And while Rauschenberg frequently filled his art with bold color, he periodically wiped his palette clean to produce white or very muted, neutral bodies of work. Untitled (1973) was created at just such a moment in the artist’s career. After moving to Captiva Island, Florida, in 1970, Rauschenberg produced several series that incorporated everyday materials such as cardboard and paper.

Untitled (1973) is associated with the Egyptian Series (1973), a group of works that involved the use of a printing press to crush common paper products into thick, cream-colored sheets that were then used for drawing, gouache, and collage. Like many of the Egyptian Series works, Untitled (1973) was created by folding a partially worked sheet of paper in half lengthwise and running it through a press while some sections were still wet with paint and glue. This caused the paper layers to adhere to each other; when the sheet was unfolded, their separation created a mirror-image arrangement of skinned and embossed paper and flattened envelopes and bags to which Rauschenberg applied additional collage elements, drawn lines, and swipes of paint. The interaction of paint and paper in Untitled (1973) creates complex, trompe l’oeil effects: white paint mimics folded paper, and crumpled bags look like splotches of acrylic. The result is a sensitively wrought and considered composition that explores and extends the inherent qualities of and distinctions between paper, paint, and print.

72 in. x 60 in. (182.88 cm x 152.4 cm)
Acquired 1981
Collection SFMOMA
Gift of the Frederick Weisman Company
© Robert Rauschenberg Foundation / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

Ownership, Exhibition, and Publication Histories

Marks and Inscriptions


paper bags, envelopes, abstract, red, white, yellow, shapes


From June 3, 2013, through early 2016, SFMOMA's building on Third Street in San Francisco will be temporarily closed for expansion construction. Selected artworks in our collection are included in a range of off-site exhibitions during this period. We regret that the remainder of the collection will not be available for study during this time.

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