Robert Rauschenberg

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Overview

Robert Rauschenberg (born 1925) is an American artist known for his revolutionary and collaborative art practice that challenged the aesthetic conventions of his time and spanned six decades. He prefigured the Pop Art movement, often employing iconic imagery from pop culture and images from newspapers and magazines to comment on American life while simultaneously invoking and challenging the gestural painting style of Abstract Expressionism. Rauschenberg also sought to create at the intersection of art and life, transforming everyday objects like quilts, umbrellas, pillows, and garbage into painted works mounted in sculptural compositions on the wall, expanding the boundaries of the traditional canvas. He called these pieces Combines, and they remain among his more groundbreaking and celebrated works. Rauschenberg writes, “I consider the text of a newspaper, the detail of photograph, the stitch in a baseball, and the filament in a lightbulb as fundamental to the painting as brush stroke or enamel drip of paint.”

 

Rauschenberg was born in Port Arthur, Texas and studied at the experimental art institution Black Mountain College, where he was taught by Bauhaus artist and instructor Joseph Albers. There, he met other creative contemporaries such as the composer John Cage and choreographer Merce Cunningham, who were his frequent collaborators thereafter. They fearlessly blended the realms of music, dance, sculpture, and performance. His work and partnerships carved the path of the Neo-Dada movement of the 1950s and 60s, alongside artists such as Jasper Johns and Allan Krapow. Throughout the length of his career, Rauschenberg experimented with a number of mediums such as painting, sculpture, prints, photography, and set design, never adhering to a singular method or form, and continually blurring the boundary between art and the everyday. He lived and worked in New York City and on Captiva Island, Florida, until his death on May 12, 2008.

 

 

Related Works

  • Rauschenberg's work was a major inspiration for conceptual artist Ed Ruscha early his career. Ruscha wrote, "The work of [Jasper] Johns and Rauschenberg marked a departure in the sense that their work was premeditated, and Abstract Expressionism was not … So I began to move towards things that had more of a premeditation." View his work.
  • Rauschenberg is often associated with Pop Art, but his artistic philosophy is arguably more aligned with Neo-Dada, which sought to narrow the gap between art and everday life. Jim Dine is another Neo-Dada practitioner who gets grouped with Pop. View his work.
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