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Robert Rauschenberg, 22 Oct 1925 - 12 May 2008
Edwin Eugene Aldrin, Jr., born 20 Jan 1930
Janis Joplin, 19 Jan 1943 - 4 Oct 1970
Robert Francis Kennedy, 20 Nov 1925 - 6 Jun 1968
John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 29 May 1917 - 22 Nov 1963
Martin Luther King, Jr., 15 Jan 1929 - 4 Apr 1968
Color screenprint
Image: 89.5 x 68cm (35 1/4 x 26 3/4")
Sheet: 109 x 86.3cm (42 15/16 x 34")
Mat: 121.9 x 96.5cm (48 x 38")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Restrictions & Rights
Usage conditions apply
© Robert Rauschenberg Foundation / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY
Object number
Exhibition Label
Inspired by the death of singer Janis Joplin, who had grown up in the same small Texas town as artist Robert Rauschenberg, Signs captures the turbulence of the 1960s. Placing Joplin in the upper center, Rauschenberg juxtaposes soldiers in Vietnam with peace protestors. Robert F. Kennedy, killed while campaigning, speaks out at center, while his brother, President John F. Kennedy, in profile, overlooks footage of his assassination. Opposite the president, the presence of Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin Jr. testifies to the realization of the Kennedy's dream of a moon landing. Fallen civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., paired with a wounded supporter, recalls ongoing challenges to the American ideal of "equality for all." Rauschenberg hoped that Signs would "remind us of love, terror, violence of the last ten years. . . . The danger lies in forgetting."
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
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National Portrait Gallery Collection