Installation View

Installation view of Robert Rauschenberg's White Painting [three panel], SFMOMA, 2008

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  • Installation view of Robert Rauschenbergs <em>White Painting</em> [three panel], SFMOMA, 2008

    Installation view of Robert Rauschenberg’s White Painting [three panel] (1951) in the SFMOMA permanent collection presentation Matisse and Beyond, 2008. Pictured artworks: © Frank Stella / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; © Jim Hodges; © Robert Rauschenberg Foundation / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

  • Installation view of Robert Rauschenberg's White Painting [three panel] in the artist's studio, 1991

    Installation view of Robert Rauschenberg’s White Painting [three panel] (1951) in the artist’s Lafayette Street studio, New York. Photo: Dorothy Zeidman, 1991, courtesy the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation; © Robert Rauschenberg Foundation / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

  • Detail of Robert Rauschenberg's White Painting [three panel] showing texture of painted surface

    Robert Rauschenberg, White Painting [three panel], 1951 (detail)

  • View of Robert Rauschenberg's White Painting [three panel] (verso) showing raw canvas and inscriptions

    Robert Rauschenberg White Painting [three panel], 1951 (verso)

  • Details of Robert Rauschenberg's White Painting [three panel] (verso) showing signature and inscriptions

    Composite of four details showing Robert Rauschenberg’s signatures and inscriptions on the tacking of White Painting [three panel] (1951)

  • Detail of Robert Rauschenberg's White Painting [three panel] (side view) showing evidence of repainting

    Robert Rauschenberg, White Painting [three panel], 1951 (detail of side)

  • Details of Robert Rauschenberg's White Painting [three panel] (verso) showing the artist's thumbprints

    Composite of three details showing Robert Rauschenberg’s thumbprints on the verso of White Painting [three panel] (1951)

  • Installation view of Robert Rauschenberg's White Painting [three panel], SFMOMA, 2008

    Installation view of Robert Rauschenberg’s White Painting [three panel] (1951) in the SFMOMA exhibition The Art of Participation: 1950 to Now (November 8, 2008–February 8, 2009). Henning Lohner and Van Carlson’s 4’33” in Berlin (with John Cage), raw material video pictures catalogue number 001 (1990) is on the monitor at left, and a performance of John Cage’s 4’33” is taking place in the foreground. Pictured artworks: © Robert Rauschenberg Foundation / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY; © Henning Lohner and Van Carlson / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

  • Installation view of Robert Rauschenberg's White Painting [three panel], SFMOMA, 2008

    Installation view of Robert Rauschenberg’s White Painting [three panel] (1951) in the SFMOMA permanent collection presentation Matisse and Beyond, 2008. Pictured artworks: © Frank Stella / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; © Jim Hodges; © Robert Rauschenberg Foundation / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

  • White Painting [three panel]

    Robert Rauschenberg, White Painting [three panel], latex paint on canvas, 72 in. x 108 in. (182.88 cm x 274.32 cm); Purchase through a gift of Phyllis Wattis; © Robert Rauschenberg Foundation / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY; photo: Ben Blackwell


The uniformly white surface of White Painting [three panel] is meant to be activated by light and shadow. Rauschenberg hoped that one might be able to tell the time of day simply by observing the way changes in the surrounding light affected the painting. The interaction seen here between White Painting [three panel] and the purple glow cast by Dan Flavin’s The Diagonal of May 25, 1963 (1963), positioned out of frame to the right, offers a striking example of the painting’s responsiveness to its environment. Frank Stella’s Zambezi (1959) appears at left, and Jim Hodges’s No Betweens (1996) is visible in the next gallery.