From Gainsborough to Rauschenberg

When one thinks of The Huntington’s art collections, the works that often come to mind first are Gainsborough’s Blue Boy, Lawrence’s Pinkie, and the other Grand Manner portraits. And such was probably the case for major postwar American artist Robert Rauschenberg, whose Global Loft (Spread) from 1979 will begin gracing the walls of the Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art on July 5.

Rauschenberg, who died in 2008, often told the story of that fateful moment when, on a trip to The Huntington in the 1940s, he had a stunning realization while standing in the portrait gallery: that he could become an artist. “This was astounding to him,” says Jessica Todd Smith, The Huntington’s Virginia Steele Scott Chief Curator of American Art, “[that] you could make something beautiful that lived on in perpetuity long after your death.”

Today’s announcement of The Huntington’s acquisition of Global Loft (Spread) is an exciting one, especially for an institution that has only relatively recently dipped its toe significantly into the waters of postwar American art. In the video below, Smith discusses this new addition to The Huntington’s collection.

For more on this story, check out News Bytes in the spring/summer 2012 issue of Huntington Frontiers, downloadable in PDF form here.

Kate Lain is the new media developer in the office of communications at The Huntington.

4 thoughts on “From Gainsborough to Rauschenberg

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