ROBERT RAUSCHENBERG, BED, 1955

We already spoke about a bed which became a work of art: it was the artwork made by Tracey Emin.

Here we have another bed: with a different (and at the same time similar) meaning. But before going into this, I would like to introduce you briefly to the work of Robert Rauschenberg: he was part of the Dada movement, which started in the middle of last century. Marcel Duchamp was one of the most important personalities of that movement, the one who changed the whole history of art with his “ready-mades” (we spoke about him here). Robert Rauschenberg used here the same concept of the ready-made, taking an already existing object and transofrming it into a work of art.

In fact, this is a real bed, the myth says it was his own bed, which Rauschenberg used when he didn’t have the money to afford canvases, hanging from the wall like a canvas. We can see paint on it, in a style similar to Pollock’s dripping (again, we encourage you to read about him here) and Abstract Expressionism in general. The bed is used then as a support for the abstract painting, but it adds something personal to it.

The critics were shocked by this work at the beginning, because it reminded them of a scene of violence and rape, but the artist never spoke about this. The observer is allowed then to think whatever they want, and the feeling we get is certainly harsh.

Compared to the work of Tracey Emin, this bed is used as a support for art, not as art itself. Though the work has the bed in the name, so the bed becomes the work even not wanting to. The bed of Tracey Emin was just as it was when she got up from it, while this one was modified quite significantly, hanging up from the wall like a canvas.

Life and art here mix together, and we could think “when don’t they mix together after all?”

M.C.

Bibliography and further readings:

Various Authors, Robert Rauschenberg, Museum of Modern Art, 2017

 

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