Biography of Robert Rauschenberg
Robert Rauschenberg (born 1925) was instrumental in kick-starting the Pop Art movement and changing the direction of American art with his radical merging of materials and techniques. His Combines of the 1960s brought together non-traditional items such as trash and household objects with paint to make wholly new and inventive constructs. A deeply imaginative and unpredictable artist, Rauschenberg would regularly jump from one medium to another. Between 1955-64 Rauschenberg worked as a costume and stage designer for the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. In the 80s and 90s he experimented more with collage and photography.
Rauschenberg had a strict religious upbringing, and if it was not for his love of dance—considered a sin in the conservative community—it is probable that he would have joined the ministry. He was conscripted for active service during World War II and after a year or two of drifting he attended the Black Mountain College under the famed tutelage of Josef Albers, a Bauhaus founder. After completing the course Robert Rauschenberg moved to New York and began an intense relationship with Jasper Johns. Their denial of the dominant Abstract Expressionist movement was later to be termed Neo-Dada, a movement that called for a return to Marcel Duchamp’s belief in the everyday delight in the unforeseen.
Deeply involved in collaborative projects throughout his career, Robert Rauschenberg leaves an extraordinary legacy of art and technology works, choreography, performance, printmaking, set design, painting, and sculpture. An innovative screenprinter, Rauschenberg made numerous successful multiples and editions during his working life. In 1964 he became both the first American and the youngest ever to be awarded the Grand Prize for painting at the Venice Biennale. The sheer scale and beauty of Rauschenberg’s work was honored in 1997 by a huge retrospective at the Guggenheim in New York. He is in the permanent collections of all major art institutions around the world including MoMA, Hamburger Bahnhof Museum, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. He died in Florida in 2008. Two years later in 2010, Studio Painting, 1960-61 was sold at Christie’s New York for $11 million.