ROBERT RAUSCHENGERG, Samarkand stitches IV, 1988

Samarkand Stitches is a suite of wall hangings made from sewn fabric, printed with photographs then silkscreened produced after the artist visited the ancient Silk Road city. The vibrant panels are as much a representation of Samarkand’s culture as an expression of Rauschenberg’s aesthetic. Robert Rauschenberg (1925 – 2008) was an American painter and graphic artist whose early works anticipated the pop art movement. Rauschenberg was both a painter and a sculptor, but he also worked with photography, printmaking, paper making, and performance.

He is regarded as one of the greatest collagists ever. In 1984, Rauschenberg announced the Rauschenberg Overseas Culture Interchange (ROCI) at the United Nations. A seven-year, ten-country tour to places that the artist considered underdeveloped and/or politically repressed to encourage “world peace and understanding” (Mexico, Chile, Venezuela, Beijing, Tibet, Japan, Cuba, the Soviet Union, Berlin, and Malaysia). In each country, he worked with local artisans to learn traditional artistic techniques and created multi-media works inspired by these surroundings. The around-the-world art-making spree eventually culminated with a 1991 solo exhibition at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. consisting of more than 170 works.