Robert Rauschenberg worked in a wide range of mediums including painting, sculpture, prints, photography, and performance, over the span of six decades. He emerged on the American art scene at the time that Abstract Expressionism was dominant, and through the course of his practice he challenged the gestural abstract painting and the model of the heroic, self-expressive artist championed by that movement.

In his landmark series of Combines (1954–64) he mixed the materials of artmaking with ordinary things, writing, “I consider the text of a newspaper, the detail of photograph, the stitch in a baseball, and the filament in a light bulb as fundamental to the painting as brush stroke or enamel drip of paint.”1 In Bed (1955), for example, he covered a large wall-mounted board with a pillow and patchwork quilt which he then marked with graphite scrawls and exuberant lashings of paint, the latter perhaps an ironic nod to Abstract Expressionism.

Born in Port Arthur, Texas, Rauschenberg studied at a variety of art schools including the experimental Black Mountain College outside of Asheville, North Carolina, where the artist and former Bauhaus instructor Josef Albers was his teacher. There, his mentors and collaborators included the composer John Cage, the artist Cy Twombly, and the choreographer Merce Cunningham, with whom he would collaborate on more than twenty dance compositions. Rauschenberg’s engagement with performance was enduring and a defining influence in his work. As his career began to gather steam in New York in the mid-1950s, he also began a crucial dialogue with the artist Jasper Johns that shaped the work of both: together the two artists pushed each other away from defined models of practice towards new modes that integrated the signs, images, and materials of the everyday world.

Photography and printmaking were two of Rauschenberg’s abiding interests. In the 1958–60 series based on the thirty-four Cantos of Dante’s Inferno (346.1963.1-34), he used a solvent to transfer photographs from contemporary magazines and newspapers onto drawing paper. The series is emblematic of a lifetime of experimentation with the ways the deluge of images in modern media culture could be transmitted and transformed.

Introduction by Rebecca Lowery, Museum Research Consortium Fellow, Department of Painting and Sculpture, 2015

  1. Rauschenberg, statement from 1956, reprinted in Catherine Craft, “In Need of Repair: The Early Exhibition History of Robert Rauschenberg’s Combines,” Burlington Magazine 154 (March 2012): 197. 

Show full text
Wikipedia entry
Introduction
Robert Rauschenberg (October 22, 1925 – May 12, 2008) was an American painter and graphic artist whose early works anticipated the pop art movement. Rauschenberg is well known for his "Combines" of the 1950s, in which non-traditional materials and objects were employed in innovative combinations. Rauschenberg was both a painter and a sculptor and the Combines are a combination of both, but he also worked with photography, printmaking, papermaking, and performance. He was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 1993. He became the recipient of the Leonardo da Vinci World Award of Arts in 1995 in recognition of his more than 40 years of fruitful artmaking. Rauschenberg lived and worked in New York City as well as on Captiva Island, Florida until his death from heart failure on May 12, 2008.
Wikidata
Q164358
Information from Wikipedia, made available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License
Getty record
Introduction
Robert Rauschenberg attended Black Mountain College in North Carolina, where he studied with Josef Albers and was influenced by fellow student John Cage. Rauschenberg subsequently moved to New York. An early and notorious piece involved the erasure of a DeKooning drawing. In 1953, he began creating sculptures using organic materials and common items. By 1963, Rauschenberg had become so well-known that he had a retrospective exhibition at the Jewish Museum. By the 1970s, Rauschenberg had begun experimenting with performance art and film.
Nationality
American
Gender
Male
Roles
Artist, Collagist, Mixed-media artist, Painter, Performance artist, Photographer, Sculptor
Names
Robert Rauschenberg, Milton Ernest Rauschenberg, Robert Milton Ernest Rauschenberg
ULAN
500002941
Information from Getty’s Union List of Artist Names ® (ULAN), made available under the ODC Attribution License
303 works online