Artwork Detail

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

Part of Rauschenberg Research Project

  • Detail of Robert Rauschenbergs <em>White Painting</em> [three panel] showing texture of painted surface

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

  • 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], Sun Jan 01 00:00:00 PST 2012; 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


In this conservation image, White Painting [three panel] has been lit to enhance the visibility of the brushwork. The fact that the paint has clearly been worked in two directions confirms that the most recent repainting, completed in 1998, was carried out with a brush, not a roller. Rauschenberg’s concept for the White Paintings dictated that the surfaces of the works should always be pristine when exhibited. The five pieces in the series were freshly repainted and even refabricated from scratch on several occasions, usually by friends, studio assistants, or conservators rather than the artist himself. White Painting [three panel] was fully repainted in 1998. For further discussion of the series’ history of repainting, see the essay on White Painting [three panel].