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Screen PresenceCinema Culture and the Art of Warhol, Rauschenberg, Hatoum and Gordon$
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Stephen Monteiro

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781474403375

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474403375.001.0001

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A Wider Audience: Robert Rauschenberg, the White Paintings and CinemaScope

A Wider Audience: Robert Rauschenberg, the White Paintings and CinemaScope

(p.19) Chapter 1 A Wider Audience: Robert Rauschenberg, the White Paintings and CinemaScope
Screen Presence

Stephen Monteiro

Edinburgh University Press

Robert Rauschenberg’s White Paintings have been interpreted as enigmatic “blank slates” that question the meaning of painting and the gallery experience. First shown in New York in 1953, at the same time that widescreen cinema was launched with the CinemaScope film The Robe, the White Paintings created a dialogue between movie theatre and art gallery as places of popular spectacle. Despite the competing aesthetic claims of modernist painting and widescreen cinema in mid-twentieth-century America, both addressed the spectator as active participant. Ideas of “action painting” competed with attempts at producing screen action requiring a ranging eye. This chapter demonstrates how, at the moment Hollywood sought to promote movie-going as a “serious”, engrossing art form through widescreen picture formats, Rauschenberg sought to relegate painting to a supporting role in the activity of the everyday as shadows of the surrounding world would move across it screen-like surface.

Keywords:   Abstract Expressionism, Painting, The Robe, Widescreen, Cinerama

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