Milton Ernest Robert Rauschenberg, born in Texas in 1925, is an American painter, sculptor, photographer, printmaker, and performance artist. With his unique and inventive approach to the concept of art, he had been one of the most influential artists in the world for over six decades.

Rauschenberg’s Perception of Art and Life

Even though he was not involved in any particular art movements, he has been perceived as a bridge between abstract expressionism and pop art. Rauschenberg supported the idea that life and art are inseparable. Everything that we encounter in daily life can easily be the main subject of artworks, from light bulbs to rubber car tires. His most celebrated works are heed with materials he found on streets, flea markets, and home. Saw the whole world as his canvas and rewrote the artistic rulebook with his “peculiar” yet remarkable artworks.

His never-ending curiosity led him to create the most exquisite works of art that combine different styles and techniques. He used paintings with sculptures, or he applied silk screen printing on photo collages. Robert Rauschenberg was passionate about dissolving all boundaries between art and life. He believed in inclusiveness, the idea that art is for everyone. Rauschenberg had always been in the hunt for new experiences. After mastering a technique, he would move to a new one in no time to avoid repeating himself.

Robert Rauschenberg made a name for himself in the art community with his outstanding works. Let us take a look a some of them to appreciate his genius and his unique style.

Bed by Steven Zucker, 2012
Bed – 1955

The Combines are Rauschenberg’s iconic series that incorporates paintings, sculptures, and most regular items. The Bed is one of the most well-known pieces of the Combines that resembles a real bed. The story behind the artwork shows Rauschenberg’s passion and ambition. In his early youth, he was living in New York with no regular job and earning. He had no money, but he was desperate to create. He used his quilted blanket as a base, uses real pillows, sheets, and pillowcases along with strokes of paint and pencil. As expected, he put a twist on it and exhibited the artwork vertically to go beyond the ordinary. The extraordinary work welcomes its visitors to the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Monogram, 1955-1959
Monogram – 1955-1959

Rauschenberg’s art never fails to surprise us. Even though he combines the most irrelevant objects that we do not picture together, he always finds the perfect way to reveal his talent. He creates a captivating harmony with the random items, making us think that they still belonged together. In his theatrical work Monogram, the artist puts a stuffed Angora goat on a platform with a rubber tire around its body. The horizontal platform is from paintings and fabrics. He adds a dramatic effect to the goat by using paint marks on its face. This way, he aims to capture the goat’s facial expression as if it is a human. The masterpiece is a combination of sculpture and abstract painting and is one of the most iconic artworks of the 20th century.

Erased de Kooning, 1953
Erased de Kooning Drawing – 1953

The word “revolutionary” is the closest definition for Rauschenberg’s notion of art. In Erased de Kooning Drawing, one of his most unique and groundbreaking artworks, he creates art with absence. Instead of formation and accumulation, he detracts the elements of a drawing of Willem de Kooning. He aimed to frame the feeling of “absence,” and he decided the absence can only be created by destroying an existing object. Accordingly, he shows up at the door of his fellow artists de Kooning and asks for one of his works. Surprisingly, Willem de Kooning provides him one of his latest works, created with charcoal, paint, crayon, and pencil. Rauschenberg states that he worked months to erase the drawing. “Erased de Kooning Drawing,” which is open for visitors in the San Francisco Modern Museum of Art, is a clear example of the artist’s brilliant wit and wild imagination.

Retroactive II, 1964
Retroactive II – 1964

Robert Rauschenberg was well-known for his triumphant silkscreen artworks and use of mixed techniques. His striking Retroactive II painting is an excellent example of him showing his exceptional talent and creativity. It is a silkscreen printmaking masterpiece designed as a mixed media collage including visuals of American President John F. Kennedy, space travel, military trucks, etc.… In his silkscreen collage, he uses visuals that he gathered from magazines, newspapers, and advertisements. He uses the most familiar pop culture scenes and transfers them to the canvas via the silkscreen technique. The Retroactive II graces the walls of the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.

Robert Rauschenberg broke the traditional concept of art, and he drew a new path for himself. He has been an inspiration to artists and art lovers with his endless curiosity. Using everyday objects as art materials and creating masterpieces with the most random items blurred the line between art and life. He has been, and always will be, one of the most influential artists of all time.

REFERENCES

Robert Rauschenberg Artworks, 2020theartstory.org, 2020. Robert Rauschenberg Artworks. Available at: theartstory.org

‘Dirt was as important as gold’: An Oral History of Robert Rauschenberg, 2020Frieze.com. 2020. ‘Dirt Was As Important As Gold’: An Oral History Of Robert Rauschenberg. [online] Available at: frieze.com

Robert Rauschenberg | Gagosian, 2020

Gagosian. 2020. Robert Rauschenberg | Gagosian. [online] Available at: gagosian.com

Robert Rauschenberg: Art and Life, 2020

Artsy. 2020. Robert Rauschenberg: Art And Life. [online] Available at: artsy.net

Robert Rauschenberg: Art pioneer and inspiration, 2020 

BBC News. 2020. Robert Rauschenberg: Art Pioneer And Inspiration. [online] Available at: <bbc.com

Robert Rauschenberg – Bio | The Broad, 2020

Thebroad.org. 2020. Robert Rauschenberg – Bio | The Broad. [online] Available at thebroad.org

Robert Rauschenberg. Bed. 1955 | MoMA, 2020

The Museum of Modern Art. 2020. Robert Rauschenberg. Bed. 1955 | Moma. [online] Available at: moma.org

Smarthistory, 2013

Smarthistory, 2013. Robert Rauschenberg, Bed. Available at youtube

The Boundary and Possibility of Digital White Cube – Gao, 2020

Gao, M., 2020. The Boundary And Possibility Of Digital White Cube | Media Theory & Meaning Systems (CCTP-748). [online] Blogs.commons.georgetown.edu. Available at: blogs.commons.georgetown.edu

Monogram, 2020

Obelisk Art History. 2020. Monogram. [online] Available at: arthistoryproject.com

Erased de Kooning Drawing | SFMOMA, 2020

SFMOMA. 2020. Erased De Kooning Drawing | SFMOMA. [online] Available at: sfmoma.org

Art Explained, 2016 Art Explained, 2016.

ART EXPLAINED | Robert Rauschenberg Erased De Kooning Drawing. Available at youtube

Retroactive II, 2020

Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. 2020. Retroactive II. [online] Available at: rauschenbergfoundation.org

The Art Channel, 2017

The Art Channel, 2017. Robert Rauschenberg At Tate Modern. [image] Available at: youtube.com

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