The Fulton Street Studio,
By MARK BLOCH, AUG. 2014
Where had Rauschenberg (1925-2008) been and where was he going? The places he had been included Black Mountain College in North Carolina along with his wife Susan Weil studying under Josef Albers and then a tumultuous trip around Italy and North Africa with Cy Twombly that crescendoed with Rauschenberg tossing his work into the river in Florence prior to returning to the U.S.. The place he was going after the Fulton Street studio was toward the creation of his Combines, those now-historic combos of painting and sculpture that fused his name with the history of art and also with Jasper Johns, with whom he would share his next residence and workspace around the corner on Pearl Street. But the 29-month Fulton Street Studio stint gives a crisp glimpse into the manual and mental output of a man interested in creating but not interested in creating illusion.
Rauschenberg later continued honing his interest in collage, time, movement, and process as well as ideas and information. But his production on this particular output, from April 1953 to September of ’55, a prelude to the famous Combines, required that he divert his attention away from himself and his interests and toward the concrete nature of his materials. He concluded the white painting suite that had inspired John Cage to compose the monumental 4’33” as well as a final series of black paintings. He executed his sculptural Elemental Sculptures, perhaps as a “correction” to the objects he had thrown away in Europe, then a group of Gold Paintings and finally on his last stop en route to the Combines, his Red Paintings, arching toward the history-making explosion of creativity that he and the cool-headed conceptualist Johns would share.
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Mark Bloch is a writer, performer, videographer and multi-media artist living in Manahattan. In 1978, this native Ohioan founded the Post(al) Art Network a.k.a. PAN. NYU's Downtown Collection now houses an archive of many of Bloch's papers including a vast collection of mail art and related ephemera. For three decades Bloch has done performance art in the USA and internationally. In addition to his work as a writer and fine artist, he has also worked as a graphic designer for ABCNews.com, The New York Times, Rolling Stone and elsewhere. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and PO Box 1500NYC10009.