Robert Rauschenberg: Among Friends

Robert Rauschenberg. Bed. 1955

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. © 2023 Robert Rauschenberg Foundation

Christopher Rauschenberg: When people come up to a painting of my dad’s, there’s not a meaning in there that they’re supposed to get. There’s a whole series of conversational openings based on what is your experience, what is your mood today. And you might come up to a Combine painting that you’ve looked at fifty times, that you looked at yesterday, but you’re a slightly different person today than you were yesterday. And suddenly, a part of it that wasn’t speaking to you, you start in a conversation with that. It’s completed by you coming and looking at it and going into conversation with it.

People were freaking out because they couldn’t tell if it was painting or sculpture. So he had to make up a word to scare ‘em off. And so “Oh okay. They’re combines,” which is you know – it’s fun because they’re farm machines. He was very interested in language and wordplay.

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