Although I missed the display of Elizabeth Taylor’s clothing and jewelry at Christie’s, I was able to see Robert Rauschenberg’s private art collection at the Gagosian just before it closed. It’s eclectic but unsurprising. There are some Native American artifacts and some Americana. There’s a great four-panel Marilyn painting by Andy Warhol, and an intimate, book-sized wood assemblage by Damien Hirst. And there are lots and lots of drawings, which seem to have been exchanged among Rauschenberg and his artist friends (including Cy Twombly, Brice Marden, John Cage, Merce Cunningham and Trisha Brown) like postcards. Walking through the gallery I thought to myself, it’s good to have a lot of artist friends.
I liked Marden’s proto-architectural drawings, which clung tightly and intriguingly to the thin, hard line between abstraction and figuration. But I was most intrigued by the drawings by choreographers Trisha Brown and Merce Cunningham. The two drawings by Brown are composite images of moving body parts — feet in one, and hands in the other — that capture the flickering meanings folded into a single gesture. Merce’s drawings are more like scratchings, incorporating musical notation, sketches of the human figure, line diagrams, and text, all in order to capture, on a sheet of paper, with pen and ink, a dance. These seem less like drawings than like notes Cunningham is making for himself. Although there are codified notation systems to record dance, is it an exercise in futility? Dance might simply be something that cannot be held on the page.