Robert Rauschenberg, Autobiography, 1968
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; © Robert Rauschenberg Foundation / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY; published by Broadside Art, Inc.

Overview

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.

Artwork Info

Artwork title
Autobiography
Artist name
Robert Rauschenberg
Date created
1968
Classification
print
Medium
offset lithograph
Dimensions
198 3/4 in. x 48 3/4 in. (504.8 cm x 123.81 cm)
Date acquired
1992
Credit
Collection SFMOMA
Gift of Marion B. Javits, Robert Rauschenberg, and Milton Glaser
Copyright
© Robert Rauschenberg Foundation / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY; published by Broadside Art, Inc.
Permanent URL
https://www.sfmoma.org/artwork/92.278.A-C
Artwork status
Not on view at this time.

Research Materials

Downloads

Please note that artwork locations are subject to change, and not all works are on view at all times. If you are planning a visit to SFMOMA to see a specific work of art, we suggest you contact us at collections@sfmoma.org to confirm it will be on view.

Only a portion of SFMOMA's collection is currently online, and the information presented here is subject to revision. Please contact us at collections@sfmoma.org to verify collection holdings and artwork information.

This resource is for educational use and its contents may not be reproduced without permission. Please review our Terms of Use for more information.