ROBERT  RAUSCHENBERG

(American, b. October 22, 1925)

Painter, sculptor, and graphic artist, Robert Rauschenberg is one of the major artists of his generation recognized for providing an alternative to the then-dominant aesthetic of Abstract Expressionism. “He is known for assemblage, conceptualist methods, printmaking, and willingness to experiment with non-artistic materials--all innovations that anticipated later movements such as Pop Art, Conceptualism, and Minimalism.[1]?

After World War II, his friendship with the artist Pat Pearman as well as a talent for drawing led him to the Kansas City Art Institute where he studied music, sculpture and art history. Eager to learn, he completed his artistic formation at the Académie Julian in Paris. There in 1948, he met the artist Susan Weil, his future wife with whom he had a son. Back in the United States the same year, Robert Rauschenberg studied at North Carolina's Black Mountain College under the direction of the renowned Bauhaus figure, Josef Albers.“Ideally, I would like to make a picture that no two people would see the same thing?-- Robert Rauschenberg His rigid discipline and his sense of method inspired Rauschenberg to do "exactly the reverse" of what Albers taught him.

In the early 1950’s, he met the American artist Jasper Johns with whom he became a close friend and shared a neo-dada approach. For the next five years the two artists were inseparable working together on window displays for example Bonwit Teller and Tiffany’s.

Rauschenberg also focused on printmaking and collage; by the late 1950s, he was incorporating newsprint into his paintings. He would use lighter fluid to rub newsprint onto canvases, making the news of that day part of the painting.

Influenced by Andy Warho, he did a series of ‘Silkscreen Paintings’. “By 1962, Rauschenberg's paintings incorporated not only found objects but found images as well--photographs transferred to the canvas by means of the silkscreen process. Previously used only in commercial applications, silkscreen allowed Rauschenberg to address the multiple reproducibility of images, and the consequent flattening of experience that that implies. In this respect, his work is exactly contemporaneous with that of Andy Warhol, and both Rauschenberg and Johns are frequently cited as important forerunners of American Pop Art.?

Robert Rauschenberg
Carillon
Color Lithograph
40 x 27
1981

Rauschenberg had his first career retrospective, organized by the Jewish Museum, New York.

In 1964 he became the first American to win the prestigious Venice Biennale Grand Prize.

Significantly, given his use of print media imagery, he was also the first living American artist to be featured by Time magazine on its cover.

A large retrospective of his work was shown in several American cities from 1976-78. In 1980 he had retrospectives at Berlin, Dusseldorf, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Munich and London.

In 1981 his photographs were shown at the Centre Pompidou, Paris. In 1997, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, exhibited the largest retrospective of Rauschenberg's work to date, which traveled to Houston and to Europe in 1998. In May, 1999, "ARTNews" magazine featured him as one of the top twenty-five influential western artists, stating: "His irreverent notions of what an artwork could be gained him the status of an enfant terrible. Rauschenberg pushed the viewer to accept the unexpected."

In 2000, the Whitney Museum of American Art presented Robert Rauschenberg’s performance ; Synapsis Shuffle. Between 2001 and 2004, his works has been exhibited in several places such as the MFA in Boston, le Musee Maillol in Paris, the Palazzo di Diamanti at Ferrara. In 2005, the Metropolitan Museum of New York organized a wide retrospective of his work.   

Today, Robert Rauschenberg lives in New York City and on Captiva Island, Florida.


[1] Matthew Baigell, "Dictionary of American Art"