The honest answer is: EVERYTHING. Seriously. I dare you to put on a maxi dress and trainers and go have an episode in front of Robert Rauschenberg’s “Bed”.
Bed by Robert Rauschenberg, 1955
However briefly I studied this painting in one of my art history courses two semesters ago, I have been taken with it since first sight. When perusing museums and galleries, I like to navigate sans map so as to increase the element of surprise. I had inferred, based on my surroundings, that I was approaching the Pollock room but was completely caught off guard when I rounded the corner and was met with this piece (casually placed adjacent to Jasper Johns’ Flag). What you’re looking at is a mixed media piece. It is basically just a bed (real pillows and quilt) turned vertically and splattered with paint. It is said that Rauschenberg used his own pillow and blanket to create this piece at a time when he couldn’t afford an actual canvas. By using found objects from his real life, he managed to create this non-traditional self-portrait. Or perhaps it is a representation of his relationship with fellow artist Cy Twombley, whose own work resembles the scribbling seen on the pillow. Many museum goers seemed to pass this piece without a glance, making their way to see pieces by Pollock and Van Gogh. But believe me when I say that there is a raw emotion to this painting that truly deserves to be experienced.
Here are some other highlights that you shouldn’t miss!
Andrew Wyeth and Edward Hopper are two of my all-time favorites.
I wrote my final essay in my last Art History course on this painting (Les Demoiselles d’Avignon by Picasso) and how it relates to feminist ideology. Here’s a quick little article.
Street, Dresden by Kirchner
This piece of ‘degenerate art’ is a great accompaniment to the fabulous Sigmar Polke exhibit on right now.