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United States of America 1925 – 2008

Little Joe 1975 Description: Little Joe: from Bones and unions

Collection Title: Bones and unions
Materials & Technique: prints, Impression: artist proof 6

Primary Insc: RR 75-712, cat. 637
Dimensions: 62.6 h x 71.2 w x 7.2 d cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1977
Accession No: NGA 77.907.3
Image rights: © Robert Rauschenberg/VAGA. Licensed by Viscopy

Rauschenberg’s quest for international involvement took him to Ahmadabad, India, to work in a paper mill that had been established as an ashram for ‘untouchables’. His specific environment provided him with materials and he set about making the Bones and unions series. For the Bones, the collaborative team combined strips of bamboo with handmade paper embedded with segments of brightly coloured Indian fabrics. In creating the Unions, Rauschenberg sought to incorporate the mud that was used by the villagers to build their homes. He concocted a rag-mud mixture, which consisted of paper pulp, fenugreek powder, ground tamarind seed, chalk powder, gum powder and copper sulphate mixed with water, all of which was then kiln fired. For Rauschenberg, the striking contrast between the sensuous colour of the saris and the aromatic and earthy aesthetic of the rag-mud encapsulated the manifest social and cultural contrasts of India.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra