Date of Award

Spring 4-13-2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Art and Design

First Advisor

Susan Richmond


Although Walter Benjamin argues printed materials are without traditional art authority or aura, Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg’s work exists in the tradition of high art despite their use of mass-produced materials. Johns and Rauschenberg rely on the distracted attention of the viewer in the age of reproduction to engender reassessment of materials in their works. They use objects that contribute to the new distracted audience but create works that force the viewer toward intense contemplation; their works also combat trends Benjamin identifies to stake their claim as artists of original works while remaining relevant to the modern era. Johns merges print, mechanized reproduction, painting, and sculpture to subvert and reaffirm his place as the artist of an auratic object. Rauschenberg employs ready-mades, painting, printed materials, and sculpture in hybrid art works that unite mechanization with human facture to renegotiate and expose the overstimulation of reproduced objects within society.