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1961 Robert Rauschenberg Born: Port Arthur, Texas 1925 Died: Captiva Island, Florida 2008 oil, wood, graphite, fabric, metal, and rubber on canvas 85 1/2 x 62 1/2 x 15 1/2 in. (217.2 x 158.7 x 39.4 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc. 1969.47.70 Smithsonian American Art Museum
3rd Floor, North Wing

Gallery Label

Rauschenberg was one of the “Beat Generation” of artists, writers, and musicians who attacked the barriers between art and life. In Reservoir a length of wood, two clocks, and a couple of cast-off wheels reach out from the painted surface into the viewer’s space. But these elements do not add up to a single meaning. Instead, they represent both the randomness and order that Rauschenberg saw in everyday life. The arrangement of objects and thick, splashy brushstrokes represent his split-second decisions, and the two clocks precisely record when he started the work and the moment he considered it finished. The rebelliousness of the “Beats” led to the pop art of the 1960s, and for decades thereafter Rauschenberg made light of himself as “Poppa Pop.”

Exhibition Label, Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2006



Allegory - time



paint - oil

pencil - graphite


fabric - canvas