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Old 03-31-2012, 12:43 PM
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April Artist of the Month: Robert Rauschenberg

"Painting relates to both art and life. I try to act in the gap between the two.

I have always had mixed feelings about the assemblages by Rauschenberg I think because a few of them looked like trash heaps. I hope that doesn't offend anyone, but it's what I thought. I liked his collages with current pop images just couldn't find myself wanting to explore the assemblages. That's why I chose him for this month so I would look at all of his art and understand it and him better.

Robert Rauschenberg was born Milton Ernest Rauschenberg in Port Arthur, Texas on October 22, 1925. His father, Ernest, worked for a utilities company. His mother, Dora, was a very religious and frugal woman who made the family's clothes from bits and scraps. Robert found this embarrassing but it may have influenced his later work in assemblages.

He contemplated the ministry but later after a stint in the military he chose art as his career. He attended Kansas City Art Institute in 1947 and the Academie Julien in Paris in 1948. He returned to the States to attend Black Mountain College in North Carolina in 1949. There he studied under abstract painter Josef Albers and avant-garde composer John Cage and choreographer Merce Cunningham. We're going to see that Rauschenberg had a wide variety of interests including dance.

Rauschenberg began to paint the all-white, and then all-black, paintings in 1950. From these exercises in minimalism he went on to make large collage-assemblages, which he called "combines." His best-known combines are the Bed (1955), an upright bed, including patchwork quilt and pillow, that has been spattered with paint. The other is Monogram (1959), a collage- painting-platform sitting on the floor. A stuffed, big horned ram with a rubber tire around its middle stands in the center. This is the one I've had to work to appreciate.

In 1958 Rauschenberg had an exhibition in New York City that brought him attention from the art world and his paintings soon entered the collections of every large museum in America.

Rauschenberg began to silkscreen paintings in 1962. He had his first career retrospective in 1963 in New York City and was awarded the Grand Prize for Painting at the 1964 Venice Biennale. He spent much of the remainder of the 1960s dedicated to more collaborative projects including printmaking, performance, choreography, set design, and art-and-technology works.

Rauschenberg traveled extensively throughout his life. In the mid-1980s his collaborations with artisans abroad culminated in the establishment of the Rauschenberg Overseas Culture Interchange (ROCI) and involved the artist making and presenting work while traveling with a team of assistants through the then politically charged countries of China, Tibet, USSR, and East Germany to initiate cross-cultural dialogue. Rauschenberg personally funded the project, which concluded in 1991 with an exhibition of over 125 works at the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

Critics agree that Rauschenberg's later works were not as influential, but his continued commercial success allowed him to support emerging artists.
Jasper Johns, a friend of Rauschenberg said, "Rauschenberg was the man who in this century invented the most since Picasso." To me that says a lot.

Rauschenberg died on May 12, 2008 at his home on Captiva Island in Lee County, Florida.

Rauschenberg’s first and most famous combines was entitled “Monogram” (1959) and consisted of an unlikely set of materials: a stuffed angora goat, a tire, a police barrier, the heel of a shoe, a tennis ball, and paint. The idea of combining and of noticing combinations of objects and images has remained at the core of Rauschenberg’s work. It may reflect his mothers frugality as I mentioned in his biography.

Made from approximately 1954 to 1964, the Combines present mostly two-dimensional found materials plus 3 dimensional objects with added splashes and drips of paint. The bed that makes up Bed was Rauschenberg’s own bed.

combines an eagle and a pillow What other artists were doing or would do to extend the collage tradition into three dimensions was called assemblage.

But Rauschenberg prefers the term Combine, which he himself coined. He says he was inspired by Calder’s use of the term mobile which was invented to put people’s minds at ease. The idea was if you can give something that defies categories a name, perception becomes possible. The art criticism consensus has been the Combines are Rauschenberg’s highest achievement although his other works are respected, too.

Rauschenberg felt a need to create in many different ways. In the 1950s he participated in "happenings," an improvisational type of theater. The happenings of the 1960s trace their origins to Rauschenberg's early Events in collaboration with John Cage at Black Mountain College as well as his later "theater pieces."

In the 1960's he was involved with the Judson Dance Theater.

"Much of Rauschenberg's expanded theater activities were with the Judson Dance Theater.They wanted to explore the structure of movement, including everyday movements that were not 'dancing,' and to eliminate dance's dependence on fixed choreography, trained dancers, and expensive production. In these endeavors they were influenced by Rauschenberg, who served as stage manager, lighting director, performer,... The principal action of Pelican consisted of Rauschenberg and Swedish painter Per Olof Ultvedt, with open parachutes attached to their backs, skating about the arena. Around and between them, Carolyn Brown, the Cunningham company's most elegant dancer, danced on point, dressed in a sweat suit and toe shoes. 'The soaring motion of Brown's classical ballet vocabulary juxtaposed to and amplified by the rapid birdlike swooping of the men on skates' made Pelican Rauschenberg's most memorable performance art, wrote curator Nina Sundell in her catalogue for an exhibition called 'Rauschenberg/Performance.'
The artistic success of Pelican, which Rauschenberg dedicated to his heroes, the Wright brothers, seemed to confirm one of his favorite theories of art. He had indeed, as Sundell points out, 'used the limitation of materials [roller skates] as a freedom that would eventually establish form.' ch 4

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/081... IN=0810955881

In 1966, he cofounded Experiments in Art and Technology, an organization that sought to promote collaborations between artists and engineers.

September of 1970, he founded Change, a nonprofit organization to assist artists-in-need with emergency expenses

Establishment of the Rauschenberg Overseas Culture Interchange (ROCI).

He co-founded Artists Rights Today (ART) to lobby for artists' royalties on re-sales of their work

Rauschenberg's work contained nontraditional materials, which were exhibited in nontraditional settings, and made categorization of his work very difficult. Although he rejected the serious, personal emotionality of the abstract expressionist painters, his own brushwork is expressive and emotive. His incorporation of mundane objects-such as bed linens, license plates, or tires and other objects found as he walked a neighborhood heavily influenced the growth of pop in the 1960s. Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein credit some of their inspiration to Rauschenberg's collages.

"I could never make the language of Abstract Expressionism work for me -- words like 'tortured,' 'struggle' and 'pain,' I could never see those qualities in paint. How can red be 'passion?' Red is red. Jasper and I used to start each day by having to move out from Abstract Expressionism."

Videos I enjoyed
"Erased de kooning"

BBC program

“I don’t want a picture to look like something it isn’t. I want it to look like something it is. And I think a picture is more like the real world when it’s made out of the real world.”

Last month
I walk. I talk. I paint. I sing. I dance. I fall down. I get up. I do it all over again.
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Old 03-31-2012, 08:39 PM
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Re: April Artist oif the Month: Robert Rauschenberg

Thanks for your wonderful post. It's a terrific follow up to Jasper Johns last month. I enjoyed the videos too!
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Old 04-05-2012, 12:38 PM
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Re: April Artist of the Month: Robert Rauschenberg

Thank you, Addie for another very interesting presentation! I had no idea he had done the theater work and on skates!
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Old 04-05-2012, 01:24 PM
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PushingPixels PushingPixels is offline
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Re: April Artist of the Month: Robert Rauschenberg

And now we know the story behind the goat. Strange and unusual indeed.
"Life is a journey full of surprises, have fun along the way"

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Old 04-09-2012, 10:41 PM
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BlueRiderMan BlueRiderMan is offline
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Re: April Artist of the Month: Robert Rauschenberg

Good presentation.
Ever see the car he painted?


His is one of a number of artists who made a BMW their canvas.

The real damage is done by those millions who want to 'survive.' The honest men who just want to be left in peace. Those who don’t want their little lives disturbed by anything bigger than themselves. Those with no sides and no causes. Sophia Scholl
"When you pray, move your feet" (African Proverb)
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Old 04-11-2012, 07:35 AM
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Celia Blanco Celia Blanco is offline
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Re: April Artist of the Month: Robert Rauschenberg

I found this very interesting. I appreciate the thought that went into it, great info about a great artist!
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Old 04-14-2012, 11:20 AM
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Re: April Artist of the Month: Robert Rauschenberg

Thanks everyone for letting me know you enjoyed it. Now we know more about the goat.
I walk. I talk. I paint. I sing. I dance. I fall down. I get up. I do it all over again.
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Old 04-17-2012, 03:12 PM
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Re: April Artist of the Month: Robert Rauschenberg

Thanks for this informative introduction to Rauschenberg. I found the little video on the Erased de Kooning to be particularly interesting
... Randy

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“I never wanted color to be color. I never wanted texture to be texture, or images to become shapes. I wanted them all to fuse together into a living spirit" ... Clyfford Still
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Old 04-18-2012, 10:57 PM
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Re: April Artist of the Month: Robert Rauschenberg

Here is a great RR video, taken from the (highly recommended) movie "Painters Painting".
Steven Vandervate
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Old 04-30-2012, 10:48 AM
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Re: April Artist of the Month: Robert Rauschenberg

I'm happy you enjoy reading!
I walk. I talk. I paint. I sing. I dance. I fall down. I get up. I do it all over again.
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Old 05-01-2012, 10:28 AM
briansommers briansommers is offline
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Re: April Artist of the Month: Robert Rauschenberg

I love this guy.. he is funny. I'm glad I watched the videos on him.. still watching as of now..

it is such a nice breath of fresh air to see an artist laugh, it seems that group were so sad and so depressed and miserable.
Brian Sommers
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Old 05-01-2012, 12:03 PM
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Re: April Artist of the Month: Robert Rauschenberg

Thanks Addie, you have helped me to understand more about Rauschenberg and his thinking towards art. “Monogram” and the goat not make some sense to me. Thanks again!

Art and Imagination of David L Friend
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