Robert Rauschenberg

blue urchin 1974. Robert Rauschenberg
blue urchin 1974

Robert Rauschenberg (Robert Milton Ernest Rauschenberg; born October 22, 1925 – died May 12, 2008) – “titan of American art” of the XX century according to the newspaper “The New York Times”, an outstanding artist and creator, representative of abstract impressionism, conceptualism , ready-made and the founder of pop art.

Robert Rauschenberg’s paintings are collages and installations, obelisks, household items and other objects that are difficult to classify. The work of the master, like his biography, shocks, surprises, disgusts and delights, but leaves no one indifferent. An ardent bisexual, a failed pharmacist, an opponent of everything “classic” and “ordinary”, he constantly challenged the world around him and himself.

Robert Rauschenberg. bmw 635 csi art car 1986
bmw 635 csi art car 1986

Biography of Robert Rauschenberg

Robert Rauschenberg was born on October 22, 1925 in the American city of Port Arthur. His grandfather came to America from Germany and married a Cherokee Indian. There is little information about the boy’s parents – they were ordinary workers, not people of art, and categorically did not encourage the son’s childhood aspirations to redraw pictures from comics into albums.

Bob Rauschenberg (as he called himself) graduated from high school and became a pharmacist, where he studied for only a year. Some historians claim that he simply ran away from class, refusing to dissect the frog, and never returned to class. Others – that the Second World War interfered with his studies, during which the future master worked as an orderly in a clinic for the mentally ill. After the war, he finally began to “seriously” discover art for himself – he graduated from three educational institutions in America and France, began to experiment with genres, worked as a window designer, and in 1951 held his first solo exhibition.

interview 1955. Robert Rauschenberg
interview 1955

Personal life

At the same time, in 1950, he entered into his only marriage in his entire life, which lasted only three years. A young wife, artist Susan Weil, gave birth to a son for the master … And ran away, according to rumors – unable to withstand constant betrayal, including with men. Whether this is true or not is unknown, but 7 years after the divorce, the master lived with his partner and lover, Jasper Johns. The couple was strong, but also broke up due to jealousy. This time not personal, but professional. Jasper, along with Bob, is considered the “creator” of pop art.

The works of Robert Rauschenberg in different years differed in form, form and materials used to translate the ideas of the master. But all the works are united by one thing – it is always a challenge to society, the usual and “correct” construction of pictures. The early period of the author’s work is “white”, “black” and “red” paintings. The first – light works, on which symbols and letters appeared only occasionally, and more often the shadow from the audience acted as a “picture”.

odalisk 1955. Robert Rauschenberg
odalisk 1955

Early period of creativity

The rest are appliqués made of rubbish, newspapers, scraps of fabric covered with red or black paint. Silk-screen printing … Collage … Photography … For the master, the very concept of the boundaries of art did not exist – he tried himself in different genres and easily mixed them. Bring a stuffed goat to the exhibition or your own bed, splattered with paint? To glue construction debris together or create a job using black soil, through which living grass suddenly begins to sprout? Why not.

Critics were divided – some considered him a genius, others argued that he should not be taken seriously. Still others, in particular the poet Alain Bosquet, argued that Rauschenberg’s work “is an insult to everything we know about art and harmony.”

recital spread 1980
recital spread 1980

Time is always the best judge in such disputes, and today we can confidently assert that he is a genius. The master received several major awards in the field of art, held many exhibitions, and toured the United States. One of his works, “Painting of Johansen”, was sold at auction for $ 18.6 million. Robert Rauschenberg lived a long and happy life, the painter died on May 12, 2008.

The most famous paintings by Robert Rauschenberg

Installations and paintings by Robert Rauschenberg may surprise, delight or annoy, but they leave few people indifferent. He has created hundreds of works in a wide variety of genres:

  1. “De Kooning’s Erased Drawing” (1953) – yes, it’s just another artist’s erased sketch. Disputes about whether this can be considered art are still ongoing.
  2. “Bed” (1955) – a frame, a quilt stretched over it, and a pillow covered with red paint. The organizers of the exhibition refused to show this object, but it became one of the author’s most famous works.
  3. Retroactive II (1964) – this and similar collages only seem chaotic, in fact, they are filled with meaning, references to the past and speculations about the future.
  4. Glacial Decyo Series (1980) – lithography predominates in the author’s later works.
studio painting 1961
studio painting 1961
tracer 1964
tracer 1964
untitled formerly titled collage with horse 1957
untitled formerly titled collage with horse 1957
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