Robert Rauschenberg

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

Autobiography

1968
print | offset lithograph
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  • Autobiography

    Robert Rauschenberg, Autobiography, 1968; offset lithograph, 198 3/4 in. x 48 3/4 in. (504.8 cm x 123.81 cm); Collection SFMOMA, Gift of Marion B. Javits, Robert Rauschenberg, and Milton Glaser;

  • Detail of first panel of Robert Rauschenberg's Autobiography

    Robert Rauschenberg, Autobiography, 1968 (detail)

  • Detail of second panel of Robert Rauschenberg's Autobiography

    Robert Rauschenberg, Autobiography, 1968 (detail)

  • Detail of third panel of Robert Rauschenberg's Autobiography

    Robert Rauschenberg, Autobiography, 1968 (detail)

  • Installation view of Robert Rauschenberg's Autobiography, Leo Castelli Gallery, New York, 1991

    Installation view of Robert Rauschenberg’s Autobiography (1968) in Robert Rauschenberg: Print Survey in Themes, 1952–1992, Leo Castelli Gallery, New York, October 7–December 4, 1992. Photo: Dorothy Zeidman, courtesy the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation

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In the monumental three-panel lithograph Autobiography (1968), Robert Rauschenberg chronicled his life through a combination of images and words. In the first panel, a chart for the artist’s astrological sign, Libra, overlays an X-ray of his skeleton. The second panel is filled by a whorl of text that is anchored at its center by a snapshot of Rauschenberg as a child, boating with his family, and spirals out, highlighting key moments in his personal and artistic history. The third panel is dominated by an image of the artist on roller skates in his 1963 performance Pelican, his first effort as principal choreographer. The production photo is framed by images referencing the two cities that had been most central to his life up to 1968: New York and his hometown of Port Arthur, Texas.

Rauschenberg stipulated that the three panels could be installed either vertically or horizontally. In its vertical orientation, the work reaches slightly more than sixteen and a half feet high; when shown side by side, the three panels measure just over twelve feet across. Fittingly, given the artist’s egalitarian sensibilities, Autobiography was the first fine art print made on a billboard press. The printing was done with Broadside Art, Inc., an organization Rauschenberg cofounded with Marion Javits (b. 1925), Milton Glaser (b. 1929), and Clay Felker (1925–2008) that made a billboard printing press available to artists. Autobiography was produced in an edition of 2,000 in 1968 and priced at $150, a volume and cost indicating that Rauschenberg intended the work to be seen and owned by a wide audience.


198 3/4 in. x 48 3/4 in. (504.8 cm x 123.81 cm)
Acquired 1992
Collection SFMOMA
Gift of Marion B. Javits, Robert Rauschenberg, and Milton Glaser
92.278.A-C

Ownership, Exhibition, and Publication Histories

Marks and Inscriptions


Tags

triptychs, autobiographies, skeletons, text, ovals, self-portraits, dancing, parachutes

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