"Robert Rauschenberg holding mylar element for the ""Stoned Moon"" series, Gemini G.E.L., Los Angeles, 1969
Gift of Kenneth Tyler 2002
Photographer: Malcolm LUBLINER"

Robert Rauschenberg (born 1925) was enticed to work at Gemini GEL in 1966. For Rauschenberg, Tyler’s promise that scale was not a problem was assurance enough. He decided to make a life–sized self–portrait — an X–ray in the nude except for a pair of large boots. This X–ray became the key element for the print, Booster of 1967. Its groundbreaking size required the use of two lithographic stones placed in the press one after the other, with the paper run through twice to complete the image.

Booster remains one of the most significant prints made in the 20th century, helping to take printmaking into a new era in which prints were to rival paintings in invention and size.

Rauschenberg’s next project with Gemini GEL was a revolutionary print series, Stoned moon of 1969–70. The artist had been invited by NASA (the National Aeronautic and Space Administration) to witness the launch from the Kennedy Space Centre, Florida, of the rocket that would land a man on the moon. The artist found the whole experience astounding, particularly the combination of the high–tech event with the human struggle to support the venture. This juxtaposition of technology and the everyday inspired his imagery. For example, he noticed a bird’s nest perched high on a NASA structure and he included this image in his prints.

At Tyler’s recommendation Rauschenberg spent some time at Moulin à Papier Richard de Bas, in Ambert, a French papermaking mill that dated back to the 13th century. One of the 12 paperworks he made there is Link of 1974, a collage of brilliantly coloured inked pulp and screenprinted tissue—a page from a 20th–century version of a luminous medieval manuscript.

This venture heralded the future of handmade paper in the Tyler workshops.

Jane Kinsman

Further information will be added to this site as the National Gallery proceeds with its research and documentation.

Last updated October 2014