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Robert Rauschenberg
Untitled

1973

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Robert Rauschenberg "Untitled" 1973 Medium: Screenprint and collage in colors Printed and Published by Styria Studios, New York and with their blindstamp Signed and Numbered 71/100 Images Size: approx. 28 x 20 inches Framed Size: approx. 34 x 26 inches Born with the name Milton Rauschenberg in Port Arthur, Texas, Robert Rauschenberg became one of the major artists of his generation and is credited along with Jasper Johns of breaking the stronghold of Abstract Expressionism*. Rauschenberg was known for assemblage*, conceptualist methods, printmaking, and willingness to experiment with non-artistic materials--all innovations that anticipated later movements such as Pop Art*, Conceptualism*, and Minimalism*. In May, 1999, ARTNews magazine featured him as one of the top twenty-five influential western artists, stating: "His irreverent notions of what an artwork could be gained him the status of an enfant terrible. . .Rauschenberg pushed the viewer to accept the unexpected." He has said that he believes painting should relate to both life and art and that he wants is artwork to be the intermediary between the two. He received much formal art education beginning with the Kansas City Art Institute in 1947 and 1948. He studied briefly in Paris at the Academie Julian*, and from 1948 to 1949 was at Black Mountain College* in North Carolina with Josef and Anni Albers. This period was followed by several years attendance at the Art Students League* in New York City with Morris Kantor and Vaclav Vytlacil. In 1951, he exhibited all white and black paintings incorporating viewer participation through the shadows they cast on the works. At Black Mountain College, he had met composer, John Cage, and dancer- choreographer, Merce Cunningham, for whom he worked in his company as a designer, manager, and performer. Frequently he scoured the area in which they were performing for 'unusual' objects such as tires, old radios, and a stuffed goat, which he could use in the set designs. From 1953, Rauschenberg also made designs for Paul Taylor's dance company. He also pioneered electronics in art and collaborated with engineer Billy Kluver to create environmental works that manipulate light, shadow, and sound in interact with the viewer. Printmaking* was another aspect of his career, and by the late 1950s, he was incorporating newsprint into his paintings. He would use lighter fluid to rub newsprint onto canvases, making the news of that day part of the painting. Influenced by Andy Warhol, he did a series of Silkscreen Paintings between 1962 and 1964 to divert himself from the medium of collage*, with which he was becoming bored. He traveled widely, from Maylasia to Mexico, ever looking for new materials and subjects. Robert Rauschenberg died on Monday, May 12, 2008 in Florida. Sources include: Matthew Baigell, Dictionary of American Art

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About Robert Rauschenberg (Artist)

Robert Rauschenberg was one of the preeminent American artists of the 20th century, occupying a singular position that straddled the Abstract Expressionist and Pop art movements, drawing on key elements of each. An artistic polymath equally adept at painting, collage and silkscreening, Rauschenberg is best known for for the complex assemblages of found objects he termed “combines.”


Rauschenberg was born in Port Arthur, Texas, in 1925. He first began to seriously consider a career in art in 1947, while serving in the U.S. Marines. After leaving the service, he briefly studied art in Paris with support from the G.I. Bill, then moved to North Carolina to attend Black Mountain College, home to a flourishing cross-disciplinary art community. Among his peers there were choreographer Merce Cunningham and composer John Cage, both of whom became friends and artistic collaborators.


Relocating to New York in the mid-1950s, Rauschenberg was initially put off by what he perceived as the self-seriousness of the adherents of Abstract Expressionism, then the dominant movement in the New York art world. Like Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, Rauschenberg was drawn to the visual landscape of popular culture and mined its imagery for inspiration. He used unorthodox materials like house paint and tried novel techniques in his studio like running paper over with a car whose wheels he had inked. Shortly after his inaugural solo exhibition at Leo Castelli Gallery, which featured paintings and drawings, he pivoted to a new format, creating his first found-object combines, which became his signature. The most famous of these is the 1959 Monogram in which a taxidermied goat is surrounded by a car tire, recalling the way a person’s initials are interwoven in the design referred to by the title.


Later in the 1960s, Rauschenberg turned his attention to silkscreening, creating prints that feature iconic figures of the day, very much in line with the style and content of Pop art. One such work, the 1965 Core which was created to commemorate the Congress of Racial Equality, combines photographs of President Kennedy, an unidentified Native American man, and a statue of a Civil War soldier with images of highways, amusement parks, street signs, and other features of the built environment. A circular color-test wheel sits at the composition’s formal core, reflecting the work’s commentary on race and ethnicity. Throughout the 1960s and ‘70s, Rauschenberg experimented with printing on unusual materials, such as Plexiglas, clothing and aluminum. Venturing even further afield, he created performance works, such as his 1963 choreographed piece “Pelican” and the 1966 film Open Score. In 1998, the Guggenheim Museum presented a large and comprehensive retrospective of Rauschenberg’s work, highlighting his influence on American art in the second half of the 20th century.

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