In fall 1951, while studying at Black Mountain College, Rauschenberg created a series of multipanel monochromatic works called the White Paintings. John Cage, whose highly experimental music composition 4’33" was informed by the White Paintings, lauded the works for registering ambient events on their pale, receptive surfaces, most often in the form of viewers’ shadows. Never complete, White Painting is always in the process of becoming something other than what it was before. As Cage wrote in 1953, "There is nothing in these paintings that could not be changed." In an effort to preserve the pristine quality of his White Paintings, Rauschenberg frequently repainted them or had them repainted by other artists, including Brice Marden and Cy Twombly.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art [The Met Breuer]. "Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible," March 18–September 4, 2016.