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Robert Rauschenberg, Automobile Tire Print

Painting of the Week

Robert Rauschenberg, Automobile Tire Print

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, that now is nearly 65 years old?

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

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