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United States of America 1925 – 2008



publisher (organisation)

Ballot 1975 Description: Ballot: from Bones and unions

Collection Title: the 'Bones and unions' series, 1975
Title Notes: RR75-718
Place made: Los Angeles, California, United States of America
Materials & Technique: prints, rag-mud, rope Support: rag-mud
Impression: artist proof 6
Edition: edition of 15, plus 7 artist's proofs; right to print; printer's proof II; 3 special proofs; 2 Gemini impressions; Change, Inc. impression
Publisher: GEMINI G.E.L.
Place Published: Los Angeles
Date Published: 1975

Edition Notes: Collaboration by Charles Ritt. Experimentation and development by Robert Rauschenberg.Edition production by Sidney Felsen, Suzy Felsen, Robert Petersen, Robert Rauschenberg, Charles Ritt, Sarabhai family, Hisashika Takahashi. Rag-mud is a mixture of paper pulp, fenugreek powder, ground tamarind seed, chalk powder, gum powder, copper sulphate, gum powder mixed to a paste with water, and tamarind seed mixed to a paste with water. The rag-mud was shaped by hand from the artist's drawing. Indian rope was looped and imbedded to protrude for hanging. Lengths of rope were looped through the center slot and tied.
Primary Insc: RR 75-718, cat. 643
Dimensions: overall 182.9 h x 71.1 w x 3.8 d cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1977
Accession No: NGA 77.907.9
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. In the 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 the Bones (on the opposite wall), the collaborative team combined strips of  bamboo with handmade paper embedded with segments of brightly coloured Indian fabrics. 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