Dead, Robert Rauschenberg on May 12, 2008 at the age of 83 of heart failure after a personal decision to go off life support, he was an American painter and graphic artist whose early works anticipated the pop art movement.
Born as Milton Ernest Rauschenberg in Port Arthur, Texas on October 22, 1925 the son of Dora Carolina (née Matson) and Ernest R. Rauschenberg.
His father was of German and Cherokee ancestry and his mother of Anglo-Saxon descent.
His parents were Fundamentalist Christians.
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.
Rauschenberg’s approach was sometimes called “Neo Dadaist,” a label he shared with the painter Jasper Johns.
Rauschenberg was quoted as saying that he wanted to work “in the gap between art and life” suggesting he questioned the distinction between art objects and everyday objects, reminiscent of the issues raised by the “Fountain”, by Dada pioneer, Marcel Duchamp.
At the same time, Johns’ paintings of numerals, flags, and the like, were reprising Duchamp’s message of the role of the observer in creating art’s meaning.
From the fall of 1952 to the spring of 1953 Rauschenberg traveled through Europe and North Africa with his fellow artist and partner Cy Twombly.
In Morocco, he created collages and boxes out of trash. He took them back to Italy and exhibited them at galleries in Rome and Florence. A lot of them sold; those that did not he threw into the river Arno.
From his stay, 38 collages survived.
In a famously cited incident of 1953, Rauschenberg erased a drawing by de Kooning, which he obtained from his colleague for the express purpose of erasing it as an artistic statement.
By the end of 1953, he had begun his Red Painting series (1953–54) on canvases that incorporated newspapers, fabric, and found objects and evolved in 1954 into the Combines, a term Rauschenberg coined for his well-known works that integrated aspects of painting and sculpture and would often include such objects as a stuffed eagle or goat, street signs, or a quilt and pillow.
In late 1953, he met Jasper Johns; together, Johns and Rauschenberg are now considered the most influential artists who reacted against Abstract Expressionism.
They had neighbouring studios, regularly exchanging ideas and discussing their work, until 1961.
From 1954 to 1964, and again in 1977, Rauschenberg also worked with Cage and Cunningham, contributing scenic, costume, and lighting design to the latter’s Dance Company.
By the end of 1970, Rauschenberg had established a permanent residence and studio in Captiva Island, Florida. He eventually acquired 20 acres of the island to use a workspace and serve as a nature preserve.
His first project on Captiva was a 16.5-meter-long silkscreen print called Currents (1970), made with newspapers from the first two months of the year, followed by Cardboards (1970–71) and Early Egyptians (1973–74), the latter of which is a series of wall reliefs and sculptures constructed from used boxes.
He also printed on textiles using his solvent-transfer technique to make the Hoarfrosts (1974–76) and Spreads (1975–82), and for the Jammers (1975–76), he created a series of colorful silk wall and floor works.