Something to Celebrate

Curators watch as Global Loft (Spread) is secured in place by assistant preparator Tom Cabbell, Al Herrmann of Cooke’s Crating, and exhibits manager Gregg Bayne. Photo by Lisa Blackburn

If the Independence Day holiday has put you in the spirit to celebrate all things American this week, be sure to stop by the Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art to see our newest acquisition. Robert Rauschenberg’s Global Loft (Spread) was installed today and will be on public display beginning July 5. You can see a series of behind-the-scenes photos of the installation process on Flickr.

The acquisition of a major work by Rauschenberg (1925–2008) has a special significance to The Huntington because of an anecdote the artist often told about how a visit to the museum in 1946 changed the course of his career. While stationed in San Diego as a young medical technician in the Navy Hospital Corps, he made a trip to see the gardens and galleries. Gazing up at the 18th-century British grand manner portraits by Gainsborough, Reynolds, and Lawrence in the Huntington Art Gallery, Rauschenberg was struck by the realization that art was something a person could do for a living. He enrolled in art school soon after.

Jessica Todd Smith, Virginia Steele Scott Chief Curator of American Art at The Huntington, had known the story of Rauschenberg’s inspiration long before her own arrival. “I thought, perhaps someday we could have his one of his paintings on view here,” she says. “And [now] that day is upon us. It’s simply thrilling.”

You can hear Smith discuss the painting in detail in a short video that was highlighted in “From Gainsborough to Rauschenberg,” a blog post on June 7.

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

Lisa Blackburn is communications coordinator at The Huntington.

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