New Chelsea Gallery Shows Off Art on the Sidewalk

By Mathew Katz on September 17, 2011 12:04pm 

A passerby notices the projected photos at the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Project Space.
A passerby notices the projected photos at the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Project Space.
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Robert Rauschenberg Foundation

CHELSEA — There's a new gallery in Chelsea, but you wouldn't know it from the inside.

There are no paintings on the walls at the new Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Project Space at 455 W. 19th St.

In fact, there's not much of anything but two projectors and some exposed air ducts.

But that's not where the art's supposed to be according to Christy MacLear, executive director of the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation.

Their new exhibition of Rauschenberg's never-before-seen photographers is being projected onto the space's garage doors, with images swirling and expanding for passersby on the street every day, starting at noon.

"Sharing the photos with people without charging admission, really that's Bob's legacy," said MacLear. "He was so generous."

The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation exists to promote the artist's legacy. Rauschenberg, who died in 2008, rose to prominence in the 1960s for his paintings and sculptures, often combining the two mediums and incorporating photography into those works.

The photos on display have never been shown to the public before, and will also be available in a new book detailing the artist's time as a photographer.

Keeping with Rauschenberg's eccentric style, the new space will be devoted to more offbeat kinds of art than its West Chelsea neighbors.

"We want to do a little more to inspire curiosity," MacLear said. "In typical Bob fashion, it's not what you expected."

Future exhibits include performance installations and other work using projectors. An earlier show featured the costumes Rauschenberg designed for the Merce Cunningham Dance Company.

The space is a stone's throw from the High Line, so MacLear expects pedestrian traffic to keep shooting up, even if passersby are confused — or impressed.

"This place exists to serve a charitable purpose," she said.

"We're in the experimental phase."

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