Mirthday Man

Robert Rauschenberg Mirthday Man

Texts by Luise Faurschou and Jens Faurschou and Mikael Wivel

Mirthday Man is the principal work in the series Anagrams (A Pun). Rauschenberg made the painting in 1997 for his 72nd birthday. The painting features himself – his full-body X-ray first made for “Booster” in 1967. Surrounding this figure are photographs from his numerous travels all over the world of places and things he remembered with pleasure.

What is told here is not one story, but a myriad of small tales

Central motifs from his oeuvre are repeated: he recycles his skeleton, a very literal deconstruction of the artistic ‘aura’, and a concrete symbol of what we will all become in the end. There is the repetition of the blanket, already central to an early piece like “Bed”; here, though, it is as white as a shroud. The bright orange and red sunshades, so typical of the sunny South, are life-affirming, like the bicycle’s ‘wheel of life’. The wonderful clash of Botticelli’s Birth of Venus with a profane dog in a car at sunset, the soccer shirts with their colourful patchwork of numbers, and the soup-cans of everyday life.