October 28th, 2006
Robert Rauschenberg
About the Artist

Born in Port Arthur, Texas in 1925, Robert Rauschenberg imagined himself first as a minister and later as a pharmacist. 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. After leaving the Marines he studied art in Paris on the G.I. Bill, but quickly became disenchanted with the European art scene. After less than a year he moved to North Carolina, where the country’s most visionary artists and thinkers, such as Joseph Albers and Buckminster Fuller, were teaching at Black Mountain College. There, with artists such as dancer Merce Cunningham and musician John Cage, Rauschenberg began what was to be an artistic revolution. Soon, North Carolina country life began to seem small and he left for New York to make it as a painter. There, amidst the chaos and excitement of city life Rauschenberg realized the full extent of what he could bring to painting.

Rauschenberg’s enthusiasm for popular culture and his rejection of the angst and seriousness of the Abstract Expressionists led him to search for a new way of painting. He found his signature mode by embracing materials traditionally outside of the artist’s reach. He would cover a canvas with house paint, or ink the wheel of a car and run it over paper to create a drawing, while demonstrating rigor and concern for formal painting. By 1958, at the time of his first solo exhibition at the Leo Castelli Gallery, his work had moved from abstract painting to drawings like “Erased De Kooning” (1953) (which was exactly as it sounds) to what he termed “combines.” These combines (meant to express both the finding and forming of combinations in three-dimensional collage) cemented his place in art history.

One of Rauschenberg’s first and most famous combines was entitled “Monogram” (1959) 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. This pioneering altered the course of modern art. The idea of combining and of noticing combinations of objects and images has remained at the core of Rauschenberg’s work. As Pop Art emerged in the ’60s, 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. Rauschenberg transferred prints of familiar images, such as JFK or baseball games, to canvases and overlapped them with painted brushstrokes. They looked like abstractions from a distance, but up close the images related to each other, as if in conversation. These collages were a way of bringing together the inventiveness of his combines with his love for painting. Using this new method he found he could make a commentary on contemporary society using the very images that helped to create that society.

From the mid sixties through the seventies he continued the experimentation in prints by printing onto aluminum, moving plexiglass disks, clothes, and other surfaces. He challenged the view of the artist as auteur by assembling engineers to help in the production of pieces technologically designed to incorporate the viewer as an active participant in the work. He also created performance pieces centered around chance. To watch dancers on roller-skates (”Pelican”, 1963) or to hear the sound of a gong every time a tennis ball was hit (”Open Score”, 1966), was to witness an art that exchanged lofty ambitions for a sense of excitement and playfulness while retaining meaning.

Throughout the ’80s and ’90s Rauschenberg continued his experimentation, concentrating primarily on collage and new ways to transfer photographs. In 1998 The Guggenheim Museum put on its largest exhibition ever with four hundred works by Rauschenberg, showcasing the breadth and beauty of his work, and its influence over the second half of the century. Rauschenberg lives in Florida and continues to work, bringing his sense of excitement and challenge into a new century.

  • Lee-Lee J

    It is interesting and very good for homework. Especially if you’re interested in art.

  • cc

    this should be updated, he died in may of 2008 i believe

  • Irene

    Unfortunately he did passed away on May 12th 2008.

  • kayleigh

    great for art homework wish it had just a lil mre info nd some more pictures

  • Helen

    Please re-run this.

  • Pineco

    He is one of the great four artists…!
    Robert Rauschernberg, Jasper johns, Jim Dine, and Gustave klimt…. =D al good american artists of there time..! =D

  • Mr aldkfjasdlfjk

    his paintings r so perverted and weird

  • RON

    Rauschenberg and Pollock are the two 20th century artists who best followed Kandinsky’s ‘inner spirit’. But ‘inner spirit’ was blamed ‘nameless’. As a result, you cannot tell why Rauschenberg is a great artist and what problems exist.
    I developed a new theory of fine art with a new definition of art. My theory can give great interpretation to most critical issues in art history.
    Please visit my website for more details: http://www.TheGreatnessSchool.com

  • Polly Burn

    This is some of saddest news for both the art world and humanity at large Rauschenberg not only inspired generations of young art students such as myself with his depth and nack for capturing emotion in his beutiful work but he worked tirelessy to literally make the world a better place, and thanks to him it is at least a bit more beautiful. Thankyou Sir. God bless x

  • Tobe

    His art was no better than a first grader using finger paints. Woohoo, his greatest work was erasing the art of another. Give me a break. The only type of artist this guy was, was a scam artitst. Thank goodness we will no longer be punished with cello’s painted white inside a 55 gallon drum. Puhleez!

  • leelee

    He was an inspriation to everyonex god blessx

  • IAN VINSON

    A GENIUS. THE 20TH CENTURY TURNER.

  • anon

    i really admire this mans work

  • shelby

    this man is a genius, his art has it’s own unique personality. :)

  • Carson

    I love u.
    We learn and talk about
    u everyday in art.

  • Renee

    Direct quote from guest book at the last showing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, “Fred Sanford Lives!!”

  • amy

    im doing my gcse art early, i as soon as i got the
    chance to pick my topic on my final exam peice i picked you as my artist inspiration. i love your work.

  • Bridie

    Im doing my gcse’s and i have picked this style of art for my final piece. Very interesting and amazing… Love ettt Great work!!! :D

  • fiona rafferty

    Raushenburg and Richter are the most important and defining artists in my life…..thankyou both

  • Rhys

    nice work, never really heard of him but just started studying his work. and do have a soft spot for it. he has died a happy man im sure x

  • matt

    nice work, i am studying about him he has really good paintings.

  • sian

    beautiful inspiring and unique work. compositions are not easy to fathom and i am overwhelmed by your creativeness, as i have also picked you for my a level course being inspired by you is easy yet re-producing work like yours is a different task all together. thankyou for what you’ve given us

  • jordan wilson

    We learn and talk about
    u everyday in art and my art teacher is obsest with you he is a great arteest

  • Walt

    I thought his works were just a way to discover himself and start a new beggining. anywho this page helped somewhat on my homework…. Only if there were mo pistures.

  • http://frederatorblogs.com/odd/2009/05/26/meet-michelle-bryan/ Frederator Studios Blogs | The Fairly Odd-Blog | Meet Michelle Bryan

    [...] Jerry, Thundar the Barbarian, and of course, the Super Friends. In college, I studied fine arts. Rauschenberg and Duchamp were my favorites. That’s about the time I fell in love with Ren and Stimpy, Frank [...]

  • Lucky

    Where and when did he paint???

  • gnim

    I love your work. You sculptures are crazy but I like them. You are awsome. I love studing your artwork because the sculptures and paintings are great.

    Go Robert! Go Robert!

    Robert Rauschenberg wohoo!

  • hayya

    he is clever now isn’t he lol he must be soo famous all over the world and great for art home work

  • Remy

    isnt he a photographer ?>

  • Astroid

    Helped me with homework
    Thanks :)

  • saucepan

    For Pineco: Gustav Klimt was not american, he was Austrian.

  • Oscar Pine

    ********************************************************************************Plain clothes, buttons, back alley ray gun ammo, spliced paper larynx, spotted baseball bat with cocoa sprinkles, ash can rants, tv antenna painted pink, pine cone pitter patter, old people sleeping summer porches, swamp water words, tang sweet tea southern railroad back door artist.

    **************************************************

  • Charlie

    I agree with some of the previous comments – PLEASE RERUN THIS – especially since Bob has passed.

  • kieren

    this web is great for homework right

  • mememem

    RIP

  • Some kid

    This helped me alot. I am doin a report on him.

  • Some Kid

    I also belive he was married??

  • coreyhewitt22

    go rauschenberg

  • george p

    i really like collage so enjoy his work

  • the hoodie

    love his art

  • Freyja

    Very interesting and detailed, but he has passed now, and i would like to know when and where, as now this is an error of fact as he does not live in florida anymore.

  • nacho

    how yu doooin!
    your art rocks 8-)

  • devin

    very good and it go for a project i get a a+ on it!

  • Crystal

    i never heard about Mr. Robert until now. Im in college and have to do a research paper on him and after reading about him and reading all the positive things people had to say about him I want to say im excited on doing this paper. He seemed like he touch a lot of people. RIP Mr. Robert

  • Raven Johnson

    nice choice with the art biz=)

  • jake

    his work is amazingly deep. it inspires young artists like myself to see past the simple foregrounded conceptions of an object to see the symbolic side that further study of his works can provide.

  • A

    Pineco: since when was Gustav Klimt American?

  • Mr. L.

    Hi paintings are very abstract and creative. I wish that they put more info of him on here.

  • jj

    he is a fantic artist that i neverad to do herd of until now love him as a grandad to do my art homwork haha lol

  • samantha bass

    i think that he is a great artist

  • Hannah :)

    A really iconic pop artist,and this is a great article. It has really helped me with my GCSE art project on pop art-Thanks! :)

  • ben dover

    hello :) i love his work its truly fantastic. h.w <3

  • sami

    it need more in it and stof

  • lalaala

    robert and jackson pollock are my two favorite artists!

  • lalaala

    robert and jackson pollock are my two favorite artists!

    i LOVE their work.

  • Farsha

    What the message that is being conveyed in his peieces? Anyone? Stuck, and is studying him. Like his work. (:

  • Kyra St.Ives

    He Is Amazing And I Love His Work So Much, That Im Using It In My Final Peice

    :)

  • Shanice

    im stuck on my art homework about him :/

  • drodmon

    I put the value of things. I am the value.
    http://artconfidential1.blogspot.com/

  • tea’rex-

    This guy is amazing. I am thinking about basing my final piece on him, Frank Stella or David Hockney.

  • neil

    He was in the Navy not Marines.

  • slusher

    My school is doing an Acedemic Bowl in Indiana. This website is very useful for studing!

  • Jesus

    Rauschenberg was a top guy!

  • Amy

    Hi
    I was just wondering what he started his work with… What his base??
    and his main inspiration, only im doin my gcse based on him, so thought i could find out more!
    Thanks
    x

  • pradeep ahirwar

    I love his works.thanks

  • Christopher White

    Robert Rauschenberg has inspired my view of reproductive technologies in art. His ability to take and extend print-mediums with all the formal and industry protocols associated with them, to track pathways through sculpture by printing on surfaces beyond the medias matrix, to push photography and painting with translations of both mark copied and history versioned in iconic images of the day is a deep and revealing study.

    Truly a man attuned to the time in which he lived crafting and extending a plethora of communication medias that the twentieth century will come to be uniquely and essentially associated with.

    2nd draft – Corrected

  • Stever

    Bob, is definitely missed,& will be remebered, & by those of us who enjoy his Art will always love him & his work. Yes friend he passed on May ‘08 ! He was influenced by other artists and was an influence to so many others past and present. Many of his contemporaries were very signifigant to the art of the times spanning the 40’s thru the last half of the 20th & on into the 21st century. I see the style & methods of that movement in many of our current artists. My artwork has been affected by the works of many of those artist including: Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Warhol, Pollock and many others. It is still a viable form and shall continue to expand throughout time.

    *Yes there is life after death, thru art ! Peace & Love sincerely, Stever*

  • Cassie

    awsome!! i love pop art doing power point on it for my senior yr!! a genius him and warhol!!! Bravo

  • Victoria

    they need to show more on him

  • http://thehearingfix.com/ Hearing treatment

    There is evidently a lot to know about this. I consider you made various good points in features also.

  • Dave

    He’s dead and gay?

  • Ashleigh

    A very good man :)

  • Rebecca

    I really love his paintings

  • Manana Tsilikishvili

    ….I love his work, his N 1. artist in 21 century. Very Tallantiv….I wish, take same lesson….be better then I am now…

  • Miaa

    Robert Rauschenberg was a great artist. I admire his work very much and believe that he was truly dedicated to his work. His art practice and works have inspired me with my art projects and have gotten me great results. He is truly a great atist! RIP Robert Rauschenberg…..

  • Christin

    Rauschenberg was actually in the U.S. Navy, not the Marines and he said in an interview that he wanted be a veterinarian (not a pharmacist) until he was expelled from school for refusing to dissect a frog, not understanding why everyone in the class had to dissect one instead of only dissecting one frog together as a class.

  • Emmily Bright

    GUSTAV KLIMPT WAS AUSTRIAN!

    very useful. I’m Suprised the SFMOMA interactive web page doesn’t havs an in depth bio like this concidering they house many of his pieces…
    where did you hear the frog business? a sited reference?

  • jenny colucci

    My animal welfare organization was fortunate enough to have Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg and Robert Motherwell framed poster prints from their museum exhibits donated to us. They date back to exhibits from the early 90’s we believe. They are large, beautiful and we would like to sell them. Does anyone know of a museaum, art gallery or individual collector who would be interested in these pieces? If so, please contact Jenny at: jennycolucci@optonline.net. Any guidance would be appreciated. Thank you.

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