Presented by Richard H. Axsom
Curator of collections, Madison Museum of Contemporary Art
Senior curator, prints and photographs, Grand Rapids Art Museum
Professor emeritus of art history, University of Michigan
Stoned Moon Series was Robert Rauschenberg’s ambitious response to the American space program and the landmark Apollo 11 mission that put Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the lunar surface on July 20, 1969. Invited by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Rauschenberg witnessed the momentous launch at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Each lithograph in the series is a collage of official NASA photographs—space rockets, astronauts and cosmonauts, engineering diagrams, and maps—with photo transfers of images from the natural environment, popular culture, the history of flight, and art history. Characteristic of Rauschenberg’s art at the time, these photographic images are interwoven with explosive brushstrokes and drawings.
Rauschenberg (1925–2008) rose to prominence during the late 1950s, as American art was in transition from Abstract Expressionism to Pop Art. Though better known for his “Combines,” in which nontraditional materials and objects were used to create a hybrid between painting and sculpture, he was as innovative in his approach to printmaking.
In this richly illustrated lecture, Richard H. Axsom explores the significance of one of the most epic print projects of the 20th century in terms of its prodigious execution, monumental scale, technical innovations, and narrative complexities.
This program is open to the public, and admission is free. A reception sponsored by the MFAH patron group Art + Paper follows the lecture.
This lecture receives generous funding from the Virginia and Ira Jackson Endowment Fund at the MFAH and is dedicated in fond memory of Virginia Jackson (1919–2007).