About This Artwork

Robert Rauschenberg
American, 1925–2008

Short Circuit, 1955

Oil, fabric, notebook paper, postcard, printed reproductions, concert program, and autograph on canvas, wood supports, and cabinets with paintings
by Susan Weil and Elaine Sturtevant
103.5 x 95.2 x 10.8 cm (41 1/2 x 38 1/4 x 4 1/2 in.)

Through prior purchase of the Grant J. Pick purchase fund; through prior bequest of Sigmund E. Edelstone; Frederick W. Renshaw Acquisition fund; Estate of Walter Aitken; Alyce and Edwin DeCosta, Walter E. Heller Foundation, and Ada Turnbull Hertle funds; Wirt D. Walker Trust; Marian and Samuel Klasstorner, Mrs. Clive Runnells, Alfred and May Tiefenbronner Memorial, Boles C. and Hyacinth G. Drechney, Charles H. and Mary F. Worcester Collection,Mary and Leigh Block Endowment, Gladys N. Anderson, Benjamin Argile Memorial, Director's, and Joyce Van Pilsum funds., 2011.247

© Robert Rauschenberg Foundation.

Robert Rauschenberg is best known for the “combine,” a hybrid form of painting and sculpture that integrates humble materials, found images, and paint to bridge what he called “the gap between art and life.” Rauschenberg submitted Short Circuit for an annual exhibition at Stable Gallery in 1955. He invited friends to produce small pieces that could be smuggled into the exhibition in his cabinet-shaped construction. A painting by his former wife, artist Susan Weil, appears behind the right door, and a flag composition by Jasper Johns once sat behind the left door. (It went missing in 1965 and was replaced at Rauschenberg’s invitation with a facsimile by the artist Sturtevant.) The work also includes a Judy Garland autograph, an image of Abraham Lincoln, and a postcard of grazing cows, among other items. While Short Circuit captures aspects of a collective American experience, it also ranks among the most personal of Rauschenberg’s combines.

— Permanent collection label

Interpretive Resources

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