In the mid-1950s, declaring "there is no reason not to consider the world as a gigantic painting," Robert Rauschenberg began a series of radical experiments with what he called "Combines," a term he coined to describe works that fused cast-off items like quilts or rubber tires with traditional supports. "Canyon" (1959), one of the artist's best-known Combines, is a large canvas affixed with paper, fabric, metal, personal photographs, wood, mirrors and one very striking object: a large stuffed bald eagle, wings outstretched, carrying a drooping pillow, and balanced upon a wooden plank jutting out from the canvas. "Canyon" is one of six Combines in MoMA's collection, and a landmark work that helped to revolutionize art in the postwar period. An essay by curator Leah Dickerman explores the legacy of this extraordinary piece, and places it within a key period in Rauschenberg's career.
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