Robert Rauschenberg, Retroactive I, 1963. Oil and silkscreen ink on canvas. Gift of Susan Morse Hilles, 1964.30.

Robert Rauschenberg reintroduced recognizable imagery into contemporary art, and preferred employing popular mass media, such as newspapers, magazines and television, as his sources. Rauschenberg transferred these “found” media images to canvas, using commercially prepared photographic silk screens.

Retroactive I  is widely considered one of the finest of Rauschenberg’s silkscreen paintings. Central to the work is an iconic portrait of President John F. Kennedy, a symbol of progress and promise. Ironically, Rauschenberg ordered the silkscreen of this image during the summer preceding the president’s assassination. He overcame his initial reluctance to use it following the trauma of November 1963, in part because he was committed theoretically to a non-hierarchical interest in all phenomena in the world around him. Nothing, however, can separate the power of this image from its emblematic reading as the embodiment of a national tragedy.

Robert Rauschenberg
American, 1925–2008
Retroactive I, 1963
Oil and silkscreen ink on canvas
Gift of Susan Morse Hilles, 1964.30

From Our Collection

Donovan, 2004 1827, Cole Thiebaud, 1961 1721, Watteau

Upcoming Events

Aug
20
Wed
1:00 pm Tour: Highlights
Tour: Highlights
Aug 20 @ 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Tour: Highlights: Join a docent for an exploration of the collection. Meet by The Museum Shop. Highlights Tours are offered daily at 1 pm, Wednesday [...]
Aug
21
Thu
1:00 pm Tour: Highlights
Tour: Highlights
Aug 21 @ 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Tour: Highlights: Join a docent for an exploration of the collection. Meet by The Museum Shop. Highlights Tours are offered daily at 1 pm, Wednesday [...]
7:00 pm Film: The Great Passage
Film: The Great Passage
Aug 21 @ 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Film: The Great Passage
Film: The Great Passage: An introverted and unsuccessful salesman is asked to finish a new modern dictionary. After humbly accepting the daunting job, he dedicates [...]
Aug
22
Fri
1:00 pm Tour: Highlights
Tour: Highlights
Aug 22 @ 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Tour: Highlights: Join a docent for an exploration of the collection. Meet by The Museum Shop. Highlights Tours are offered daily at 1 pm, Wednesday [...]
5:30 pm Movies & Music: Desire
Movies & Music: Desire
Aug 22 @ 5:30 pm – 9:45 pm
Movies & Music: Desire
Movies & Music: Desire: An automotive engineer bound for a holiday in Spain meets a sultry jewel thief. 1936. USA. 95 min. Not Rated. B&W. [...]

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