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Cardbirds I - VII, 1971

Robert Rauschenberg

American, 1925-2008
Set of seven collaged and screen-printed cardboard wall reliefs, Edition of 75, No. 26
Various
Norton Simon Museum, Anonymous Gift
P.1972.03.1-7
Art © Robert Rauschenberg Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY Reproduction of this image, including downloading, is prohibited without written authorization from VAGA www.vagarights.com

Not on view

Robert Rauschenberg famously said that he wanted his artwork to “operate in the gap between art and life.” To inhabit this gap, he drew inspiration from the life around him: objects obtained on walks through New York, images from newspapers, personal photos.

The Cardbirds series, printed at Gemini G.E.L., re-creates flattened cardboard boxes that Rauschenberg found in alleyway dumpsters off of La Cienega Boulevard, near the print shop in Los Angeles. All of the torn edges, folds, and labels have been meticulously reproduced to duplicate the castoff boxes. There is an intentional redundancy involved in this production, as the torn, corrugated edges have been printed on pristine cardboard.

This heightened trompe l’oeil is so convincing that the Cardbirds are often mistaken for actual crushed boxes. These castoffs of commerce operate somewhere “in the gap,” as they are painstakingly fabricated to mimic real-world objects in a serialized edition of 75.

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