Lot Details

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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The seller has recorded the following condition for this lot:

Definition Key
Image The central image area, composition, or focal point; the area inside the margins/plate marks.
Margin Areas bordering the central image, outside the plate marks, or the perimeter area.
Edge The farthest edge of the object.
Verso The reverse/back of the object.

Minor An existing condition which generally does not involve risk of loss.
Moderate Noticeable damage, increasing in severity and/or size; should be monitored or corrected by a conservator.
Major Distinct, recognizable damage; the stability of the work is questionable and risk is a factor. Requires the attention of a conservator.
Extreme Advanced and severe damage; work is insecure and at great risk.

  • Estate of Martha Graham
Robert Rauschenberg from the Permanent Collection, Neuberger Museum of Art, SUNY Purchase (different edition)
Minneapolis Institute of Art
  • Ships From: New York, USA
  • Shipping Dimensions: 21.5 x 22.6 in. (54.61 x 57.4 cm.)
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