Robert Rauschenberg has been identified as a forerunner of virtually every postwar American art movement since Abstract Expressionism, though he remained fiercely independent of any particular affiliation throughout his long career. Barge, a single canvas measuring almost 10 meters in width, is the largest of Rauschenberg's Silkscreened Paintings. This monumental work in black, white, and gray incorporates many of the themes and images to which he returned repeatedly in his 79 Silkscreened Paintings, including the urban environment (water towers on a rooftop), space exploration and flight (a satellite, a rocket, radar dishes, mosquitoes, and birds), modes of transportation (a truck), and examples from art history (Diego Velázquez's The Toilet of Venus ["The Rokeby Venus"]). Rauschenberg's use of recognizable popular imagery and a commercial technique led critics to identify him with other artists working in this idiom, such as Warhol. In comparison with the often coolly executed paintings of the Pop artists, however, Rauschenberg's works are emphatically gestural and handmade.


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