Robert Rauschenberg (1925–2008) had the ability to find new and often improved uses for what others tossed aside, reinvigorating detritus with a revealing second life. In Gluts (1986–95), his last sculpture series, the artist assembled metal objects such as traffic signs, exhaust pipes, radiator grilles or blinds to create complete units in which the whole becomes more than the sum of the parts.
"It's a time of glut. Greed is rampant," explained Rauschenberg himself in reference to his Gluts, which were inspired by the economic devastation that his home state of Texas was suffering due to a glut or supply surplus of oil on the market. The Bilbao exhibition features sculptures of large dimensions and complexity, revealing the monumentality of Rauschenberg's assemblages while simultaneously showcasing the unique dynamics between the sculptural and the pictorial which has always characterized this great American artist, to whom the Museum dedicated a comprehensive retrospective in 1998–99.