Eric Doeringer: Matson Jones & Co.
November 30, 2016 - Dec 31, 2016
Mulherin New York is pleased to present Matson Jones & Co., a solo exhibition by Eric Doeringer of artworks inspired by Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns.
Often described as "close friends" or "neighbors", Rauschenberg and Johns were also lovers - a relationship they had to keep secret at the time. Rauschenberg, five years older and more established in the New York art world, met Johns during the holiday season of 1953/54. Rauschenberg was married and had a young son, but he and Johns developed a friendship that soon turned romantic. The two were inseparable until a bitter breakup in 1961. This was a seminal period for both artists, the era when they created many of their iconic works. Leo Castelli met Johns on a visit to Rauschenberg's studio in 1958 and soon gave him the one-man show that launched his career (Alfred Barr purchased three paintings from the exhibition for the Museum of Modern Art).
Before they were able to support themselves with their artwork, Johns and Rauschenberg had a business designing windows for department stores. To distinguish this commercial work from their work as artists, they used the pseudonym Matson Jones. Matson was Rauschenberg's mother's maiden name, Jones an "anonymous" homophone for Johns. Although this work was explicitly separate from their artwork, John's White Flag (1956) and Flag on Orange Field (1957) were first exhibited in the window of Bonwit Teller (as were several of Andy Warhol's earliest Pop Art canvasses).
The two never credited any of their artworks as collaborations, but Johns lettered the title card framed beneath Rauschenberg's 1953 Erased de Kooning Drawing and contributed a small flag painting to his 1955 "combine" Short Circuit (which also incorporated a painting by Rauschenberg's ex-wife Susan Weil). When the Johns painting was stolen in the mid 60's, Rauschenberg replaced it with a similar flag painting by Elaine Sturtevant, an artist known for "remaking" artworks by her contemporaries.
Sturtevant and Rauschenberg were good friends, even posing together in the nude (as Adam and Eve) for Sturtevant's 1967 photograph Duchamp Relache. Sturtevant painted several Johns Flags in the 60's and later made many other "Johns" works including Johns White Numbers, Johns Gray Alphabets, and Johns Target With Four Faces.
Sturtevant never made any "Rauschenberg" paintings. However, in 1964 Japanese artist Ushio Shinohara copied Rauschenberg's 1958 Coca-Cola Plan as part of his "Imitation Art" series. Shinohara based his sculpture on a black and white photograph that had been published in a Japanese art magazine, requiring him to invent the colors (which are much brighter than Rauschenberg's). Shinohara also sculpted several "found" elements that he could not obtain in Japan and used Japanese Coca-Cola bottles.
On a visit to Japan in the 60's, Rauschenberg praised Shinohara's sculpture. Of course, Rauschenberg had already "copied" himself. In 1957 he painted Factum I and Factum II - two paintings with identical compositions of dripping brushstrokes and collaged clippings. The Factum paintings were a critique of prevailing ideas about creativity, originality, and the gestural mark as the expression of an artist's psyche. Because Rauschenberg made the paintings simultaneously, neither is truly the "original" or the "copy".
For this exhibition, Doeringer presents his own versions of these copied artworks. An artist's book, Erased de Kooning Drawings, has been published in conjunction with the exhibition and is available from the gallery.
Eric Doeringer and artist/writer Greg Allen will discuss the romantic and artistic relationship between Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg at 4 pm on Saturday, December 17.
Eric Doeringer (b. 1974) is a New York-based artist who remakes works by other artists. Known for selling his "Bootleg" versions of contemporary art outside of art fairs and galleries, Doeringer has also exhibited at institutions including MoMA PS1, The Whitney Museum, The Brooklyn Museum, MassMoCA, La Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, and MUSAC (Spain). Doeringer's artist's books are held in the collections of numerous museum and university libraries and were recently featured in the exhibition Ed Ruscha: Books & Co., which travelled internationally to the Museum Brandhorst in Munich, Germany and three branches of Gagosian Gallery.
Please direct all inquiries to Katharine Mulherin at