Close
Robert Rauschenberg on ladder next to a large print on the wall.
Detail of brochure for Robert Rauschenberg's "Autobiography" from Broadside, 1968.
May 11, 2021

Broadside

In 1968, Milton, Marian Javits (the wife of Jacob Javits) and Clay Felker founded Broadside, a fine arts printing company focused on producing (very) large format prints by significant artists at affordable prices by utilizing commercial printing presses. The business was based at the Milton mothership, 207 E. 32nd Street, home to Push Pin Studios and New York Magazine. Of course, Milton designed the letterhead.
Letterhead for Broadside on yellow paper.


Previously, Milton had served on the “Arts and Letters” committee for Javits’ successful 1968 reelection campaign for the Senate, and Push Pin Studios created campaign buttons (designed by Jason McWhorter and art directed by Milton). Milton and Clay Felker were very busy in 1968; they launched New York Magazine the same year.

Broadside ultimately released only two projects, one by Richard Lindner and another by Robert Rauschenberg; here’s Milton describing the prints in a May 1, 2002 book review of Rauschenberg’s Posters by Marc Gundel in PRINT:
 
Lindner gave us a painting emblematic of his work - a triptych of three costumed women in brilliant color - that we rendered as a silk-screen print. We found a billboard printer to produce Rauschenberg’s piece, an 18’ long work entitled “Autobiography.” Rauschenberg, unlike Lindner, was very interested in the printing process and very particular about the effect he wanted to achieve; we spent many hours (in the age before computer), considering how to produce the poster in the way that he envisioned it.

“Autobiography” was a three panel print which included a life-size x-ray of the artist, a spiral shaped diary of important events in Rauschenberg’s life photographed through a distortion lens camera, and a photo collage of Rauschenberg skating in one of his dance works. Broadside produced a brochure (complete with several vaguely impractical hanging suggestions) to promote the piece, which was sold for $150. (The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art also has a copy of a letter that accompanied the brochure.)
Brochure advertising Rauschenberg's Autobiography print.
 
Brochure advertising Rauschenberg's Autobiography print.
 
Brochure advertising Rauschenberg's Autobiography print.


It was a deal even then, though good luck figuring out where to hang it. “Autobiography” was shown at the Whitney in 1968; Hilton Kramer, who reviewed the work in The New York Times, was not a fan. Broadside ultimately failed as a business proposition even though Pop Art was flourishing at the time and printmaking was resurgent. I haven’t been able to find anything more about the Lindner prints, but surely the scale of the Rauschenberg print (4 ½ ft x 17 ft) made it a tough sell to the very audience Broadside was targeting. Perhaps “Autobiography” was better suited to museums all along.

This article also appears in PRINT.