Robert Rauschenberg, Satellite, 1955. Oil, fabric, paper, and wood on canvas with stuffed pheasant, 79 3/8 × 43 1/4 × 5 5/8 in. (201.6 × 109.9 × 14.3 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of Claire B. Zeisler and purchase with funds from the Mrs. Percy Uris Purchase Fund 91.85
ADAMWEINBERG: In the 1950s, Robert Rauschenberg started making paintings that incorporated objects salvaged from everyday life. This work, called Satellite, includes doilies, bits of wallpaper and fabric, comics, postcards, a washcloth, even a pair of socks and, at the top, a stuffed pheasant. The artist once said, “A pair of socks is no less suitable to make a painting with than wood, nails, turpentine, oil and fabric.” He coined the term “combine” to describe this new art form—a hybrid of painting, sculpture, and collage.
Rauschenberg and his contemporaries blurred the boundary between painting and sculpture, and between art and everyday life. They were responding in part to the previous generation of Abstract Expressionists, who some felt were too inward-looking, too detached from the rest of the world. This new generation of artists wanted to infuse art with new content—they drew on images from popular culture, from television, newspaper and magazines. And yet, even as Rauschenberg and others challenged the tradition of Abstract Expressionism, they borrowed its raw, spontaneous style of painting. You can see that influence here in the rough brushstrokes and drippings of the paint.