In 1953 Robert Rauschenberg knocked on Willem de Kooning‘s studio door with a bottle of Jack Daniel’s and an idea. “I was hoping to God,” Rauschenberg said, “that he wouldn’t be home.” But de Kooning let the young artist in. “For a while,” wrote Mark Stevens in his biography of de Kooning, “the two men engaged in small talk. And then Rauschenberg, hemming and hawing, asked the older man if he might have a drawing. That in itself was not unusual. Artist friends often exchanged work. But Rauschenberg wanted the drawing not to hang in his studio, but to erase.” De Kooning said that he wanted to give the young Rauschenberg something de Kooning himself would miss.
Last summer, the artist Chris Martin, whose giant one-person show recently closed at the Corcoran and whose current first institutional show outside the United States has just opened at Kunsthalle-Duesseldorf, paid a visit to Norte Maar. Inspired by the show on view organized by Julie Torres, Martin picked up a pencil and drew a chicken on the wall. He pinned up a pretzel to emphasize the eyes. He titled the drawing “Wise Chix (en),” and dedicated it to Torres.
We all fell in love with the drawing and for more than two shows, the chicken stayed. We thought long and hard about what to do with the chicken as we new it couldn’t stay. We would certainly miss it.
Then we had an idea…spontaneous… Man Bartlett would paint over the Chris Martin.
Bartlett’s interaction with the wall drawing by Chris Martin was reverent, just as Rauschenberg described his interaction with the de Kooning, “It was poetry,” Rauschenberg said.
Many thanks to Chris for the drawing, Julie for the inspiration, and Man for the resolution.
Robert Rauschenberg discusses Erased de Kooning Drawing.