Leah Dickerman: From 1959 to about 1962, Rauschenberg made a series of works that he called trophies. All of these works were dedicated to key people in his life, people who had important impact on his thinking as an artist, including the choreographer Merce Cunningham; Teeny and Marcel Duchamp; Jean Tinguely, the artist who’d created the self-destructing Homage to New York; artist Jasper Johns; and the composer John Cage.
The trophy he made for John Cage is seen here. A large suspended boot drops to hit a piece of metal. And a single clanging note is rung in homage to the composer.
Robert Rauschenberg: Every now and then, you wanna thank somebody back who has given you so much, then there’s a new trophy. It’s just a special kind of thanks that has been in a series of my life’s work. This is the one for John Cage. We were soul mates right from the very beginning, philosophically or spiritually. He told me that he had to learn Zen. And I didn’t know what Zen was. And I still don’t. So I’m real Zen. [laughs] And he said I was natural Zen.
Leah Dickerman: Here is Rauschenberg playing the piece.