Hoarfrosts (1974–76)

For the Hoarfrosts, Rauschenberg used solvent to transfer images from newspapers and magazines to unstretched fabric. The Hoarfrosts were created when Rauschenberg noticed that the cheesecloth used to clean lithography stones in print workshops retains traces of ink when hung up to dry. The series was also inspired by James Rosenquist’s birthday gift to Rauschenberg of a bolt of transparent silk that reminded Rauschenberg of a “hoarfrost”—frozen water vapor—a word used in Dante’s Inferno. According to the artist’s instructions, the unstretched fabric works are attached to the wall with push-pins that are inserted in sewn "button holes" at the upper edge, allowing them to respond to air currents and move accordingly. The artist described them to Calvin Tomkins as “shimmering information.”