Robert Rauschenberg – Bugle

Robert Rauschenberg was a new kind of artist when he arrived; one continually experimenting with new and surprising materials and who embraced popular culture and expanded what an artwork could be. Unafraid of the consequences, he broke all the rules. Most noticeably he fused the dynamic quality of sculpture with the two-dimensional aspect of paintings and fashioned something entirely different from what we would call assemblage.

Bugle, a construct from 1979 incorporates Rauschenberg’s knack for creating an interface between art and our experience in the world. Installed upon a wall, it’s a highly ordered, corner-to-corner aligned configuration of three-atop-two elongated boxes that impresses as a spatial project as well as a suspended whole. As for what makes it pure Rauschenberg, it’s in his intent to show us life in contemporary America in ways we might not otherwise experience. He does so with collage and solvent transfer applications to the fabric that wraps each skyscraper-like form and then vivifies the work with light bulbs and an electrical cord.

Bugle is an important work from a group of sculptural works from 1977 – 1981 that came to be known as the ‘Scale’ series.  When Ace Gallery of Venice, California ran a full-page ad for “Bugle” in 1980 it caught the eye of an astute collector and has remained in his collection since that time. Similar works from the series are in the collection of The Broad in Los Angeles and Cranbrook Art Museum in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.