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Robert Rauschenberg. Bed. 1955 22

Oil and pencil on pillow, quilt, and sheet on wood supports, 75 1/4 x 31 1/2 x 8" (191.1 x 80 x 20.3 cm). Gift of Leo Castelli in honor of Alfred H. Barr, Jr. © 2024 Robert Rauschenberg Foundation

Narrator: Is this a bed?

Or a painting?

Narrator: Or both? The artist, Robert Rauschenberg, called works like these “combines”—like a combination of things. Here’s what he had to say about making Bed:

Artist, Robert Rauschenberg: It was very simply put together, because I actually had nothing to paint on.

Narrator: Rauschenberg took the quilt off his bed and decided to paint on it like a canvas.

Robert Rauschenberg: No matter what I did to it, it kept saying “I’m a bed!” [laughs] So I gave it a pillow!

Narrator: Look at all the different ways Rauschenberg changed his bed into a work of art. At the very top he scribbled and drew on the pillow with a pencil. Find the places where he used a paintbrush to add colors. Now find the spots where it looks like he squeezed the paint right out of the tube. There are even some places where it looks like he smooshed the paint around with his fingers.

Think about your own bed at home. How would you make it into a work of art?