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 - Robert Rauschenberg: Reinventing Art
OverviewProcedures for TeachersOranizers for Students


  • Poster board, paints and markers
  • Various art materials
  • Found objects, costumes, and junk
  • Current magazines and newspapers


There are many sites available focusing on art. A simple search on the Internet will yield many results. The sites listed below represent good sources from which a student can begin his or her research. These sites can be bookmarked, downloaded as a page, or copied as links into a Web page for future student research.

Museums and Galleries

A description of the Guggenheim retrospective, this one from the museum in Bilbao. Includes an artist bio and some images from the show.

Guggenheim Museum supports the work of Robert Rauschenberg in a Press Release

Fine Arts Museums, San Francisco. Zoom in on even the finest details of the 14 reproductions available here which showcase the bizarre Pop images from Rauschenberg's repertoire. To see these go to and then search "Robert Raushenberg"

Detroit Institute of Arts.. Search "Robert Rauschenberg"..Six images make up this gallery of Rauschenberg paintings. View such titles as Creek and numbers one through five of the Bellini series.

Tate Collection. Although images may not be available for all of the 19 works by the artist held in the Tate galleries, find a fact sheet about each, and a bio.

Browse three pages of photos representing 20 works by the prolific 20th Century artist. Click each thumbnail for a big image and a fact sheet.


Small collection of images by the painter famous for his white-on-white canvases and postmodern montages.


Time Magazine Article: Review of the huge Rauschenberg retrospective at the Guggenheim complains of its overwhelming size, but speaks positively about the artist.

Art In America. Examines Rauschenberg's work in the wake of a huge traveling retrospective of his long career. Written by Roni Feinstein in 1998.

Article discusses the artist's legacy in light of a monumental 1998 retrospective of his works at the Solomon R. Guggenheim museum.

Dictionary of Art terms


MSN Encarta. Contains an encyclopedia entry on the 20th-century American painter from Texas. Review a gallery of his work.

Artcyclopedia. Resource lists museums, galleries, art archives, and magazine articles that offer information about the Pop artist, and images of his works.

Alternative Art Movements

Information about Postal Art through the century

Biography and Community

Biographical sketch of American painter described as a "Neo-Dadaist" by his linking the abstract expressionism and pop art movements.

Robert Rauschenberg community. This is a good portal for other resources as well as communicating with the artist



Time Allotment: 6 weeks

Step One

In a class discussion, read aloud the Rauschenberg essay on the American Masters Web site ( to your students. As you read the article, moderate a discussion by stopping to ask questions. Have students take notes and write down their thoughts and ideas for future reference. These notes will come in handy when the students do individual research. (The questions below are in sequence to the article).

(Inventive Genius) "It wasn’t until 1947, while in the U.S. Marines that he discovered his aptitude for drawing and his interest in the artistic representation of everyday objects and people."

    • (Question to Students) How old was Rauschenberg when he became an artist? How old do you have to be to become an artist? What does this say about artists? What is your perspective of what an artist is, looks like or acts like? How are artists portrayed in popular culture?

"It was there with such exciting young artists as dancer, Merce Cunningham, and musician, John Cage, that he planted the seeds of what was to be an artistic revolution."

    • What is an artistic revolution? Are you aware of any other kinds of revolutions? What happens during revolutions? Why would the author of this essay use the term artistic revolution to describe this time period in history (1948)? What else was happening in the world in the late 1940’s and 1950’s? How have movies portrayed that time?

"It was there, among the chaos and excitement of city life, that Rauschenberg realized the full extent of what he could bring to painting."

    • How did Rauschenberg use the world around him to influence his artwork? Was this a change from other artwork of the time? The politics of the time were very conservative, especially after WWII, what do you think Rauschenberg was trying to do with his artwork?

Rauschenberg’s enthusiasm for popular culture… seriousness of Abstract Expressionists…"

    • What is popular culture? Is it the same as pop culture? What do you think abstract expressionism means without looking it up?

"…his work had moved from abstract painting to drawings like "Erased De Kooning" (which was exactly what it sounds like) to what he termed "combines."

    • What do you think combine art is? What do you think formal painting is? What objects could you use to illustrate your world? What do found objects express in sculpture?

"One of the first and most famous combines was entitled ""Monogram’ and consisted of an unlikely set of materials: a stuffed Angora goat, a tire, a police barrier, the heel of a shoe, a tennis ball, and paint."

    • Why do you think Rauschenberg chose these objects? How do found objects express the artist himself? Why do you think the critics were horrified?

"As pop art was emerging, Rauschenberg turned away from three-dimensional combines and began to work in two dimensions, using magazine photographs of current events to create silk-screen prints."

    • What would you use to make a two-dimensional combine yourself?

"Using this new method he found he could make a commentary on contemporary society using the very images that helped to create that society."

    • How could you make a commentary on your environment, society, school, life, and political climate?

"He also created performance pieces centered around chance."

    • What do you think the significance of performance art was? How different or similar are performances to combines?

"Throughout the eighties and nineties Rauschenberg continued his experimentation, concentrating primarily on collage…"

    • What do you think collage is? Why would he concentrate "primarily on collage"?


Step Two

Divide your students into groups. Have each group fill out the Student Organizer #1 and then define the vocabulary in Student Organizer #2. Students should work in a teams mapping different political and social events over the past 50 years. Students will find the list of Web sites (Student Organizer #3 and #4) as a good starting point.

Step Three

Have a class discussion about the various art movements. Help them to understand the relationship between art, culture, politics, technology and society. In the group discussion, students should understand how one influences and changes the other. For example: The Pop Art movement in the 50’s was a direct result of post WWII advertisement and technological advances.

Step Four

Using the research students have done, have each group write an essay on the relationship between Rauschenberg’s artwork (each group should pick a different era or art movement) and the political environment of the time.

Step Five

Present the student work. Have students translate their research and essays into a two or three-dimensional combines, performances, installations or multimedia presentations. HAVE FUN!

Additional Activities — REINVENT YOUR CLASSROOM

  1. Create a celebration of art! Turn your classroom into an art gallery and have a show! Have each student produce an art piece that expresses themselves and/or their community. As part of the art show, have students create their own art movement and art manifesto, i.e. "21st century Popular Abstract Color Rebels."
  2. Have students create their own two or three-dimensional combines. Have the artwork represent current events in newspapers and magazines.
  3. Have students create a performance using found objects. Model it after Rauschenberg's performance art work.
  4. Make your classroom into a giant installation art piece.
  5. Good luck!

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