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Donald Saff and Robert Rauschenberg in the studio with Party Line (Arcadian Retreat)

Related to Catastrophe (Arcadian Retreat), 1996

Donald Saff and Robert Rauschenberg with Party Line (Arcadian Retreat) (1996) in the artist's studio on Captiva Island, Florida, 1996. Courtesy Saff Tech Arts, Oxford, MD. Photo: George Holzer

Research Material
Archival Image

Like Catastrophe, Rauschenberg’s Party Line, shown above, is part of the series Arcadian Retreat, a group of twenty-five frescoes that the artist developed with technical assistance from master printer Donald Saff (pictured above at left). Since the 1960s, Saff has worked collaboratively with numerous artists to develop innovative materials and techniques that will enable them to realize their artistic visions. This photograph, taken during the making of Party Line, illustrates Rauschenberg’s method of achieving vibrant images by layering photographs printed with special inks and paper onto wet plaster. By varying the pressure applied by his hand or with a plastic squeegee, Rauschenberg could modulate the intensity of the transfers. This new fresco technique allowed the artist to layer images of his travels over one another and create different visual effects. The varied surface treatments seen in Arcadian Retreats include bleeding, washes, and exposed plaster.

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