Robert Rauschenberg
Riding Bikes, 1998

Robert Rauschenberg invented, and Daimler AG commissioned, a sculpture created in 1998 called riding bikes. It is two bicycles mounted next to each other, with their outlines picked out in color by thin neon tubes. The sculpture rises above a pool of water and articulates a small square, bordered by the old Weinhaus Huth and Richard Rogers’ and Renzo Piano’s new buildings. The sculpture loses its meaning and function as a vehicle, as it consists of two bikes fitted together wheel to wheel. The pseudo-vehicle with four wheels, reminiscent of Duchamp’s ready-mades or a montage from Léger’s film collage Le Ballet mécanique, is condemned to stand still. After doubts about the idea of an irresistible progress as a paradigm of Modernism had been voiced and irony shifts more strongly into people’s consciousness as an appropriate device for the educator, the paralyzed vehicles standing on their back wheels could be interpreted as an amusing invitation to commemorate – or just to think of – a client whose products guarantee the highest standards in terms of locomotion.

Robert Rauschenberg

* 1925 Port Arthur (TX), USA
† 2008 Captiva Island (FL), USA

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