Robert RAUSCHENBERG, Bit Enlarge 1 /1


United States of America 1925 – 2008

Bit [Bit (from 'Pages and Fuses' series)] 1974
Collection Title: the 'Pages and fuses' series 1973-74
Title Notes: 007-010
Place made: Los Angeles, California, United States of America
Materials & Technique: prints, pressed paper pulp Support: paper pulp
Impression: right to print
Edition: edition of 33 plus 7 artist's proof; right to print; 2 Gemini impressions; special proof
Publisher: GEMINI G.E.L.
Place Published: Los Angeles
Date Published: 1974

Edition Notes: Collaboration by Vera Freeman, Marius Peraudeau, Kenneth Tyler. Screenprinting by Richard Ewen, Marie Porter, Gary Reams, Jeffrey Wasserman. Handmade paper, pigment, and screenprinted tissue laminated to paper pulp The series Pages and Fuses was created at the Moulin a Papier Richard de Bas in Ambert, France where paper has been made since the 14th century. In August 1973 the artist and his collaborators spent four days at the paper mill constructing the standards for eleven editions. The master papermaker, Marius Peraudeau, completed the editions while carefully following the set standards. This edition, Bit, contains natural-fiber handmade paper formed into a mold shaped to the design of the artist. The color of the paper was achieved by adding light-fast pigments made especially for papermaking to the pulp before it was poured into the mold. At Gemini, sheets of Japanese tissue were screenprinted with magazine images selected by the artist. At the mill, these tissues were placed on the newly formed wet sheets of paper. The pieces were then pressed and left to dry naturally. The mold for this edition was also used to form the edition, Page 3. After both editions were completed the mold was destroyed.
Primary Insc: Verso: signed lower right in pencil "RAUSCHENBERG" dated lower right corner in pencil "74"
Secondary Insc: Verso: inscribed lower right in pencil "RTP"
Tertiary Insc: Verso: stamped lower centre in grey ink copyright and Gemini GEL chops
Dimensions: sheet 47.2 h x 44.6 w cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1975
Accession No: NGA 75.612
Image rights: © Robert Rauschenberg/VAGA. Licensed by Viscopy

In 1973, on the recommendation of master printer Kenneth Tyler,  Rauschenberg began a collaborative project with the paper mill Richard de Bas in Ambert, France. The artist wanted to engaged with handmade paper as one of the most ancient of artistic traditions. The resulting series, Pages and fuses, is a group of paper pulp works. The Pages are formed from natural pulp and shaped into paper pieces that incorporate twine or scraps of fabric. In contrast, the Fuses are vivid pulp pieces dyed with bright pigments. This innovative experiment with paper pulp sparked a renewed interest in handmade paper, which inspired major paper works by artists such as Ellsworth Kelly, David Hockney and Helen Frankenthaler.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra