In 2013, with the support of The Helis Foundation, NOMA acquired Melic Meeting (Spread), 1979, by Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008), one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century. This acquisition was motivated in part by Rauschenberg’s ties to Louisiana and to NOMA. Rauschenberg was born in Port Arthur, Texas, but he considered Louisiana his home. His family relocated to Lafayette in 1945, and continues to reside there today.
In 1977 Rauschenberg participated in the NOMA exhibition Five from Louisiana as one of five Louisiana artists who had gained international prominence. These artists included Lynda Benglis, Tina Girouard, Richard Landry, and Keith Sonnier. At the time arts advocate Luba Glade praised Five from Louisiana saying, “It answers a loud ‘Yes’ to the ever present question of whether creative people from the land of magnolias, red beans, and gumbo can make it to center stage in the great big art world…”
In Five from Louisiana Rauschenberg exhibited examples from his Hoarfrost series, and debuted a large artwork from his Spread series. “Spread” is a term used to describe a wide expanse of land, as well as a fabric covering; it also refers to the large scale of these particular artworks. Paint and solvent transfer are applied to wood panels and often to fabric collage, while found objects, mirrored Plexiglas, and electric lights are commonly included.