Tracer (1963) by Robert Rauschenberg

Tracer - Robert Rauschenberg - 1964

Artwork Information

ArtistRobert Rauschenberg
Dimensions84 x 60 in. (213.4 x 152.4 cm)
Art MovementNeo-Dada
Current LocationNelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO, US

About Tracer

The artwork “Tracer” by Robert Rauschenberg, created in 1964, exemplifies the Neo-Dada art movement. This figurative work is composed of oil and silkscreen on canvas, measuring 84 x 60 inches (213.4 x 152.4 cm). “Tracer” is currently housed at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, located in Kansas City, Missouri, United States.

The artwork reveals a complex overlay of images that evoke a sense of cultural and historical commentary, characteristic of Rauschenberg’s approach to art. The predominantly blue-toned canvas features a juxtaposition of various elements: helicopters in motion occupy the upper left, while the central space is dominated by ghostly, superimposed female profiles, suggesting a classical motif rendered through modern techniques. A sketched geometric shape reminiscent of a wireframe model floats near the female figures, adding a sense of analytical detachment or schematic design.

Below, the artwork captures the figure of a bird, possibly an eagle, rendered with expressive brushstrokes that convey a raw, almost primal texture, contrasting with the mechanical and urban imagery. The lower right quadrant features a street scene where the overlay of a “CAFETERIA” sign adds to the richness of visual stimuli, hinting at the rhythms of daily life and consumer culture. These elements are layered in such a way that they create a dream-like, almost fragmented narrative, inviting viewers to explore the relationships between the disparate images and their potential meanings within the context of mid-20th-century America.

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