Fargo Podium Reflection (2011)

The abstract expressionist artist Robert Rauschenberg was probably best known for “combine paintings,” mixed-media collages of objects applied to a painted surface that bridge the gap between painting and sculpture. His 1982 Fargo Podium was one of the art works commissioned for the Wells Fargo Building (now the Citigroup Center) in Downtown Los Angeles.

The work is a bench (or “podium”), five meters long, 4.6 meters deep, and a meter high. It’s covered in a collage of assorted newspapers, prints, maps, paintings, fabrics, and pages of books depicting workers, sports, and transportation, all behind thick glass. Rauschenberg intended it as a place for people who work in or visit the building to “sit, rest, and enjoy the passing parade.”

But most people who see it (including art critics) find it unfathomable. And its location— in the middle of the third floor of the building’s galleria, away from the passing parade in the plaza— makes it more of an obstruction than an inviting place to sit and rest. But the glass at least provides an interesting reflection of the adjacent Library Tower.

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