Artwork Detail

Detail of Robert Rauschenberg's Catastrophe (Arcadian Retreat) showing troweled plaster edge

Part of Rauschenberg Research Project

  • Detail of Robert Rauschenbergs <em>Catastrophe (Arcadian Retreat)</em> showing troweled plaster edge

    Robert Rauschenberg, Catastrophe (Arcadian Retreat), 1996 (detail)

  • Detail of Robert Rauschenberg's Catastrophe (Arcadian Retreat) showing the artist's signature

    Robert Rauschenberg, Catastrophe (Arcadian Retreat), 1996 (detail)

  • Detail of Robert Rauschenberg's Catastrophe (Arcadian Retreat) showing frame and metal support

    Robert Rauschenberg, Catastrophe (Arcadian Retreat), 1996 (detail)

  • Detail of Robert Rauschenberg's Catastrophe (Arcadian Retreat) showing troweled plaster edge

    Robert Rauschenberg, Catastrophe (Arcadian Retreat), 1996 (detail)

  • Detail of verso of Robert Rauschenberg's Catastrophe (Arcadian Retreat) showing backing board

    Robert Rauschenberg, Catastrophe (Arcadian Retreat), 1996 (detail of verso)

  • Donald Saff and Robert Rauschenberg in the studio with Party Line (Arcadian Retreat)

    Donald Saff and Robert Rauschenberg with Party Line (Arcadian Retreat) (1996) in the artist's studio on Captiva Island, Florida, 1996. Courtesy Saff Tech Arts, Oxford, MD. Photo: George Holzer

  • Catastrophe (Arcadian Retreat)

    Robert Rauschenberg, Catastrophe (Arcadian Retreat), inkjet transfer and wax on fresco panels, 111 in. x 75 in. (281.94 cm x 190.5 cm); Gift of Vicki and Kent Logan; © Robert Rauschenberg Foundation / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY


The rough, troweled plaster edges of Catastrophe (Arcadian Retreat) contrast markedly with the work’s smooth wooden frame. By drawing attention to the plaster’s natural texture, Rauschenberg highlights the technical expertise demonstrated in his use of this material. After transferring photographic images onto the wet plaster, the artist marred its surface, distressing the images to mimic the crumbling facades of the buildings pictured in many of his source images. He then applied a layer of wax to this diverse plane of smooth and rough areas, sealing the transferred images.