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Robert Rauschenberg (American, 1925–2008)
LOT ID: 66930
Opal Gospel (complete set of 10 signed works with base and box), 1971

Mixed Media, Color Silkscreens on Plexiglass with Engraved Signature Sculpture Multiple fitted onto Lucite Base in Stainless Steel Box with Engraved Signature
21.5 х 22.6 in. (54.61 x 57.4 cm.)
Signed, stamped, all 10 silkscreens on plexiglass + the aluminum box itself are hand engraved and numbered by the artist
Print/Casting Year 1971
Edition 230
Foundry/Publisher Racolin Press, Briarcliff Manor New York, Publisher & Styria Studio, New York, Printer
Lot description
The provenance of this work is superb as it comes from the private collection of dance legend Martha Graham, who was friends with the artist.

Pop Art legend Robert Rauschenberg's chef d'oeuvre 'Opal Gospel' is considered one of his most important multiples ever created.

It consists of 10 hand silkscreened transparent acrylic panels (each incised with artist's unique signature) of American Indian stories, songs, poems, and found imagery --each dedicated to a different American tribe: Najajo, Apache, etc. screenprinted onto a series of transparent acrylic pages set into a pre-fitted acrylic/Lucite base. Rauschenberg intended the viewer to remove and read the various spiritual messages about the earth and sky and re-arrange and re-order the pages in novel combinations, thus altering the work's appearance and meaning. For him, the work's evocative power was magnified by incorporating the idea of chance, in this case provided by the viewer. Commenting on the content of the work, Rauschenberg noted that "Spiritually and factually, [American Indian] drawings improved the hunt and chronicled their history both generally and personally so that it could be understood by other tribes and other generations. It could be read or felt at one instant. [Art] should be a form of therapy." Opal Gospel is word art in the sense that each silkscreen can be seen as a page in a book, with the viewer being given the opportunity to choose the 'page' or spiritual 'gospel' he or she is ready to receive at any time.

Each plexiglass silkscreen measures 18 by 10 inches, and each bears Robert Rauschenberg's hand incised signature, numbered from the limited edition of 230.

The aluminum box housing the set also has Rauschenberg's incised signature and number.

It is uncommon to find the complete set of 10 plexigrass silkscreens, in the original acrylic base housed in the original incised stainless steel box.

There is some minor scratching to the lucite base, and scratching and rubbing and wear to the stainless steel box, but the ten individual Opal Gospel silkscreens on plexiglass are each in excellent condition. A masterpiece emcompassing all of the elements Rauschenberg is best known for - found imagery, word art, and mixed media collage -- reflecting spiritual inspiriation and appropriation from diverse sources, cultures and ethnic and artistic traditions.

'Opal Gospel' is must have for serious collectors, dealers, and lovers of the work of Robert Rauschenberg from one of the most influential and desirable eras.
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