Masterpiece Stories

Robert Rauschenberg, Automobile Tire Print

Zuzanna Stańska 17 December 2017 min Read

Automobile Tire Print is one of Robert Rauschenberg’s most intriguing collaborative efforts. In 1953, the artist directed composer John Cage to drive his Model A Ford in a straight line over twenty sheets of paper that Rauschenberg had glued together and laid in the road outside his Fulton Street studio in Lower Manhattan.

Yes, that is art! And it looks like this:

Robert Rauschenberg Automobile Tire Print Robert Rauschenberg, Automobile Tire Print, 1953, SFMOMA
Robert Rauschenberg, Automobile Tire Print, 1953, SFMOMA

Over the years, Automobile Tire Print has been interpreted as a monoprint, a drawing, a performance, a process piece, and a distinctive exploration of indexical mark making. But the truth is – this piece is perfectly indeterminate.

Like Rauschenberg’s Erased de Kooning Drawing, which was also created in fall 1953, Automobile Tire Print challenges traditional understandings of art and authorship.

What do you think about this piece, which now is nearly 65 years old?

Here you can watch Rauschenberg himself describing the process of creating Automobile Tire Print. Fascinating!

Recommended

John Singer Sargent, Lady Agnew of Lochnaw, 1892, Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh, UK. Detail. Masterpiece Stories

Masterpiece Story: Lady Agnew of Lochnaw by John Singer Sargent

Lady Agnew of Lochnaw is a masterpiece by John Singer Sargent. It portrays a Victorian woman in a bold, modern manner. Sargent combined masterful...

James W Singer 5 December 2022

William Blake The Ancient of Days, from Europe A Prophecy, 1794, watercolor etching, The British Museum, London, UK. Masterpiece Stories

Masterpiece Story: The Ancient of Days by William Blake

The Ancient of Days, designed, printed, and hand colored by William Blake, was the frontispiece of his 1794 poem Europe a Prophecy. An epic...

Catriona Miller 28 November 2022

Sir Edwin Landseer, Monarch of the Glen, ca 1851, Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh, UK. Detail. Masterpiece Stories

Masterpiece Story: Monarch of the Glen by Edwin Landseer

Monarch of the Glen by Edwin Landseer is one of the most famous British paintings of the 19th century. It is a Victorian melodrama at its most...

James W Singer 21 November 2022

Claude Monet, Water Lilies, 1906, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA. Detail. Masterpiece Stories

Masterpiece Story: Water Lilies by Claude Monet

Water Lilies is a masterpiece of Impressionism. It blends the artist’s objective world and subjective...

James W Singer 7 November 2022