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View of Robert Rauschenberg's Untitled [black painting with portal form] showing alternate orientation

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  • View of Robert Rauschenbergs <em>Untitled</em> [black painting with portal form] showing alternate orientation

    Robert Rauschenberg, Untitled [black painting with portal form], 1952–53 (alternate orientation)

  • Details of Robert Rauschenberg's Untitled [black painting with portal form] showing newspaper clippings

    Composite of two details showing newspaper clippings in Robert Rauschenberg’s Untitled [black painting with portal form] (1952–53)

  • Detail of a clipping in Robert Rauschenberg's Untitled [black painting with portal form] alongside article

    Composite showing a detail of a clipping embedded in the surface of Robert Rauschenberg’s Untitled [black painting with portal form] (1952–53) alongside the original New York Times article

  • Installation view of Robert Rauschenberg's Untitled [black painting with portal form], Larry Gagosian Gallery, New York, 1986

    Installation view of Robert Rauschenberg’s Untitled [black painting with portal form] (1952–53) in Rauschenberg: The White and Black Paintings 1949–1952, Larry Gagosian Gallery, New York, April 18–May 31, 1986

  • Installation view A of Robert Rauschenberg's Untitled [black painting with portal form], SFMOMA, 1999

    Installation view of Untitled [black painting with portal form] (1952–53) in Robert Rauschenberg, SFMOMA, May 7–September 7, 1999

  • Installation view B of Robert Rauschenberg's Untitled [black painting with portal form], SFMOMA, 1999

    Installation view of Robert Rauschenberg’s Untitled [black painting with portal form] (1952–53) in Robert Rauschenberg, SFMOMA, May 7–September 7, 1999

  • Detail of Robert Rauschenberg's Untitled [black painting with portal form] showing variety of paint

    Robert Rauschenberg, Untitled [black painting with portal form], 1952–53 (detail)

  • View of Robert Rauschenberg's Untitled [black painting with portal form] showing alternate orientation

    Robert Rauschenberg, Untitled [black painting with portal form], 1952–53 (alternate orientation)

  • Detail of Robert Rauschenberg's Untitled [black painting with portal form] cracks and spidering

    Robert Rauschenberg, Untitled [black painting with portal form], 1952–53 (detail)

  • Detail of Robert Rauschenberg's Untitled [black painting with portal form] showing nailed canvas

    Robert Rauschenberg, Untitled [black painting with portal form], 1952–53 (detail)

  • Untitled [black painting with portal form]

    Robert Rauschenberg, Untitled [black painting with portal form], Tue Jan 01 00:00:00 PST 2013; oil, enamel, and newspaper on canvas, 51 1/8 in. x 54 1/4 in. (129.86 cm x 137.8 cm); Promised gift of an anonymous donor; © Robert Rauschenberg Foundation / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY; photo: Ben Blackwell


Carolyn Brown, a friend of Rauschenberg’s and a founding member of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, purchased Untitled [black painting with portal form] with her husband at the time, musician and composer Earle Brown, when the work was exhibited at Stable Gallery, New York, in Rauschenberg: Paintings and Sculpture; Cy Twombly, Paintings and Drawings (September 15–October 3, 1953). Brown remarked to the artist that the large black rectangle bothered her, and he responded that they should hang the work on its side. From that point on the painting has had two acceptable orientations—vertical or horizontal.