Stanford University, 2014–15

Cantor Arts Center, Loose in Some Real Tropics: Robert Rauschenberg’s “Stoned Moon” Projects, 1969–70, Dec. 20, 2014–March 16, 2015

The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation collaborated with guest curator James Merle Thomas for this exhibition featuring a selection of prints from the Stoned Moon series and the rarely seen original drawings for the unrealized Stoned Moon Book, on loan from the Foundation. Thomas made extensive use of the then yet-to-be-processed Foundation archives and ultimately included a selection of archival materials in the presentation. He chose the exhibition title from a line in a serialized account of the Apollo launch penned for Life magazine by Norman Mailer, who wrote of his own experience at Cape Canaveral, Florida: “He was loose in some real tropics at last with swamp and coconut palms. It was encouraging. Technology and the tropics were not built to hide everything from each other.” Like the Mailer quote, the Stoned Moon works, which layer scenes of astronauts and rockets, imagery of the lush Floridian landscape, and depictions of complex machinery, illuminate an important moment in artistic, scientific, and American history. Capturing the sensory overload of the Apollo era, Rauschenberg’s Stoned Moon projects highlight the impact of technological innovation on American culture in the 1960s and prompt reexamination of the ways in which technology continues to shape our relationships with the natural world. The presentation was part of the yearlong, university-wide interdisciplinary program “Imagining the Universe: Cosmology in Art and Science Initiative.”

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A lithograph showing palm trees, a space shuttle launch pad, and a herron. There is an overlay of blue shapes and a grey textured background.

Local Means (Stoned Moon), 1970