Robert Rauchenburg: October 22, 1925 - May 12, 2008...Sweden
"If you don't have trouble paying the rent,
you have trouble doing something else; one needs just a certain amount of trouble."
Robert Rauschenberg, the Father of Pop, developed Pop Art with fellow artist, Jasper Johns. Originally from Port Arthur,
Texas, Rauschenberg went on to study at the University of Texas to become a pharmacist until he was drafted into the US Navy,
where he cared for mental patients at a naval hospital. During his time in the military, he became very interested in becoming
a professional artist. He chose to attend the Kansas City Art Institute in 1947. Soon he traveled to Paris to study at the
Académie Julian. The following year he was attending the Black Mountain College in North Carolina under Josef
Albers. Over the years he also received honorary doctoral degrees from Grinnell College, Iowa; University of South
Florida; and New York University. His style was varied at this time, but he was more of an abstract or conceptual artist,
creating works like Erased de Kooning, where he literally erased a William
de Kooning drawing. It was 1953 and the twenty-eight year old Rauschenberg went to the studio of Willem de Kooning,
who was becoming a very popular artist at this time. He requested a drawing, but not as an artwork. Although Rauschenberg
admired de Kooning, he wanted to have the drawing to make another artwork. It was clear that the young artist wanted to erase
the drawing. De Kooning gave him a drawing that was attacked with fifteen erasers. "I had been working
purely abstractly for so long, it was important for me to see whether I was working abstractly because I couldn't work any
other way, or whether I was doing it out of choice." So, his style would again evolve and the art world would never
be the same. While taking some classes at the Art Students League in New York be met and became good friends with Jasper
Johns. "I don't think there's anything really wrong with influence because I think that one
can use another man's art as material either literally or just implying that they're doing that, without it representing a
lack of a point of view." Their style was influenced by Marcel Duchamp, surrealism, and
composer John Cage. "There were only five galleries in those days, and the
artists really depended on each other socially, psychologically, and even critically. It’s impossible now. Business
sure screwed up the art world universally."
of ink and crayon on paper with mount and hand-lettered ink by Jasper Johns. 25 x 22 inches. San Francisco Museum of Modern
Art, San Francisco, Ca. USA.
Rauschenberg’s art infused painting with objects: stuffed animals, radios, bottles, and so on. His works
became known as "Combine” paintings for the obvious logic of their combining two-dimensional
painting with three-dimensional objects. His most known Combine was Monogram. He placed
a taxidrrmackly-stuffed (yes I invented this word) angora goat with a tire around its belly, along with a police barrier,
the heel of a shoe, a tennis ball on top of a painted surface. “I got so I was really just sick
of sculpture.” So he evolved.
1959. Mass media on wood platform.
42 X 63 X 64 inches. Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden.
“It's so easy to be undisciplined. And to be disciplined is so against my character, my general
nature anyway, that I have to strain a little bit to keep on the right track.” In 1960 Rauschenberg starts to
make silkscreens of current events. This was a technique that was mimicked by many artists including Jasper
Johns, Andy Warhol, and Barbara Kruger. The images varied from
John Kennedy and the space race to baseball games. “The artist's job is to be a witness to his time
in history.” They often look abstract, but with close attention a story is intertwined in the patchwork of images.
His unique style made him a widely recognized and collected artist, whose artwork was sold as recently as 2008 for $14.6 million.
"I can't afford me, either." His combine works made him known, but he loved to experiment with
new ideas and media, even creating a few Performance artworks. He moved his studio to Captiva, Florida in 1970. There he worked and lived until his death in 2008 of heart failure.