Retroactive: a Single Work of Art, with Many Faces

Topics: John F. Kennedy, Cuban Missile Crisis, Cold War Pages: 4 (1271 words) Published: August 27, 2013
A Single Work of Art, With Many Faces
By: Logan Dodge

Few works of art are able to perfectly capture a period of time as thoroughly as Paul Rauschenberg does with his masterpiece titled, Retroactive. He was one of the first artist who wanted to take mass media into the art studio, and break down the barriers between art and things like advertising, newspapers, and television. Retroactive is a brilliant collage of iconic images from the early 60’s and it captured all of its political drama, scientific breakthrough, and the emotions that went along with that time period. It is a masterpiece, but it is a masterpiece that almost did not happen. In 1961, America led a failed invasion of the communist island of Cuba. This led to the Cuban missile crisis the following year and in 1963, a man sits in the back seat of a car with his wife. Both of them waving to the crowd gathered at the sides of the road. A few minutes later that very car would be racing away as the onlookers scattered in terror. The president had been shot and killed in Dallas, and an artist decides to abandon a painting he had been working on. The death of President Kennedy left people in awe. The great man who had prevented doomsday, and who had stood up to the communist was now dead. And for Rauschenberg, continuing his work felt wrong. Rauschenberg thankfully did not completely abandon the work and instead approached it with a new goal and from another angle. He began working on Retroactive again with the goal of memorializing a dead hero. For Rauschenberg, with his goal of breaking down boundaries between mass media and art, Kennedy would be the perfect subject. Kennedy had become an idol and a martyr for the American people to look up to. So he restarted his work on Retroactive, Throwing out the idea of it being completely a painting he restarted his work. Instead,

“Robert Rauschenberg reintroduced recognizable imagery into contemporary art, and preferred employing...

Cited: (Atheneum, Wadsworth. “Robert Rauschenberg, Retroactive 1”. n.d. Web. 11 Mar. 2013.)
(Graham, Andrew. “Retroactive 1, by Robert Rauschenberg”. n.d. Web. 11 Mar. 2013.)
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