Misc. Prints & Ephemera

Texas Mastaba Exxon Mobile by Christo and Jean-Claude, 1976
color lithograph and screenprint
36 x 24 in
41 x 30.50 in

First edition poster from the Bicentennial series commissioned by Mobil Oil Corporation for the Bicentennial. Recognized by the American Revolution Bicentennial Administration.

This lithographic poster was one of thirteen prints included in the portfolio that accompanied America: The Third Century, an exhibition commissioned by Mobil Oil to celebrate the United States Bicentennial in 1976. The bicentennial took place just two years after Christo, a refugee from post-war Communist Bulgaria, became a U.S. Citizen. The poster reproduces a sketch for the Houston Mastaba, first conceived in the late 1960s amidst the country’s growing dependence on foreign oil. The massive trapezoidal structure takes both its name and form from that of an ancient Egyptian tomb characterized by a wide base, sloping walls and a flat roof. Monumental in scale, the Houston Mastaba, composed of 500,000 stacked oil barrels (though a 1970 collage titled One Million Stacked Oil Drums reveals that artists had originally proposed an even larger work), was intended for a site on the side of a highway between Houston and Galveston, Texas. Inclusion in the portfolio was likely seen by the artists as an opportunity to drum up support for the project, which, like the 1967 wall across the Suez Canal, was ultimately scrapped.

"America: the Third Century" portfolio of prints demonstrates the depth and breadth of art making in 1976 America. Commissioned for the 1976 celebration of the American Bicentennial, it includes works by James Rosenquist, Robert Rauschenberg, Roy Lichtenstein, Allan D’Arcangelo, William Bailey, Edward Ruscha, James Brooks, Costantino Nivola, Velox Ward, Raymond Saunders, Robert Andrew Parker, and Ben Schonzeit.

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