Robert Rauschenberg

Nationality: American

Birth Year: 1925

Death Year: 2008

Place of Birth: Port Arthur, Texas, U.S.A.

Specialities: Modern Art

Biography

Robert Rauschenberg (b. 1925 – d. 2008)

Date of Birth: October 22, 1925

Date of Death: May 12, 2008

Place of Birth: Port Arthur, Texas, U.S.A.

Education: Black Mountain College
Occupation: Painter, Graphic Artist

Movement: Neo-Dada

Robert Rauschenberg was an American artist who was fundamental to the Neo-Dada movement. He was especially well known for his “Combines,” works created from articles and materials that did not necessarily belong to the art world. He was also an artist known for his long and deep collaborations with other artists.

Early Life

Rauschenberg’s given name was Milton Ernest Rauschenberg. Born into a working class family, Rauschenberg had initially wanted to be a minister at his Fundamentalist Christian church. His mother was in the habit of making clothes for the family from scraps. His precociousness as a child was evident from an instance when, not particularly fond of this tradition of home-made clothes, he demanded a new shirt for his graduation.

Though he was always drawing, no one noticed his skills. He enrolled at the University of Texas, to study Pharmacology. But as he did not wish to dissect animals, he was asked to leave the course. However he was soon drafted into the army around the same time. Since he refused to carry arms, he was incorporated into the Navy Hospital Corps.

Beginnings as an artist

After the war, Rauschenberg joined the Kansas State University, studying art. He also changed his name to Robert, to celebrate a new beginning. He moved to Paris to study at the Academie Julian. The G.I. Bill helped him do this. Here he met and befriended Susan Weil, a painter.

Europe didn’t quite work for him, and with Weil, he decided to go study at Black Mountain College. He was an admirer of Josef Albers, the director of the school and the founder of Bauhaus. Unluckily for Rauschenberg, Albers regularly criticized his work. But he also learnt how to see everyday objects differently, something that perhaps influenced his later work. He once said, “I really feel sorry for people who think things like soap dishes or mirrors or Coke bottles are ugly because they’re surrounded by things like that all day long, and it must make them miserable.”

Rauschenberg moved with Weil to New York in 1949. He joined the Art Students League, studying with Vaclav Vytlacil, and also met CyTwombly, with whom he would share a professional as well as romantic relationship.

As an artist, he was beginning to find his style, and was beginning to use non-traditional materials in his work. He was an admirer of pop culture, and was drawn towards combining unrelated images and objects into three-dimensional works.

The Middle Years

Rauschenberg and Susan Weil were married in 1950. However, they didn’t stay together long, and it is possible he was already involved with Twombly before his divorce in 1953.

Together with Twombly, he travelled to North Africa. He used trash he found there to make collages. These were shown in Italy. From this period were born the “Red,” “White,” and “Black” series, in which he integrated newsprint and objects on the surface of his images. His “Combines” also date from this period.

Collaborations

The first important, long-standing partnership Rauschenberg would have was with Jasper Johns. The two met in 1953, and were to form an intense romantic as well as professional relationship. They lived together, and had studio spaces next to each other. They were each other’s audience, and significantly influenced each other’s work, as they moved further and further away from Abstract Expressionism, a movement that Rauschenberg had turned his back on from the beginning of his career. They remained together till the end of the decade.

The other long-term collaboration he had was with the choreographer Merce Cunningham, and his partner, the composer John Cage. Along with Jasper Johns, the four were at the forefront of what was termed the Neo Dada style.

Rauschenberg designed sets and costumes for the Merce Cunningham Dance Company from 1954-64. He was a good dancer, and choreographed his own pieces in the 1960s.

Later Years

The artist had established himself by the 1960s. His work was travelling to exhibitions in Europe, and he was presented the first prize at the Venice Biennale.Always interested in current events, he created “A Modern Inferno”, commissioned by Life Magazine, in which he condemned the Vietnam War. He created a series of lithographs entitled “Stoned Moon” at the end of the sixties in which he used pictures of space travel from NASA records.

Through these later years, he began creating large-scale works. He continued his old practice of using everyday objects in his art. Some critics were not too impressed by this, and insinuated that the artist had run out ideas.

In later life, Rauschenberg suffered from alcoholism, and in 1996, he went into rehab. A year later, in 1997, a retrospective of his work was held at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.

The last few years of his life were difficult; he suffered a stroke that left him paralyzed on the right side. He died in 2008.

Works Exhibited at:

Gagosian Gallery, Guggenheim Museum

 

 

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ART PRICES

LOT SOLD (1975 - 2009)

2218

MAX PRICE

$14,601,000

AVG PRICE

$1,131,059

TOTAL SALES (1975 - 2009)

$96,140,069

 Dawn Gallery Poster by Robert Rauschenberg

Robert Rauschenberg

Dawn Gallery Poster

Bonhams, Los Angeles

August 17, 2015

 USD

 The United Nations Conference On Human Settlements / Habitat II by Robert Rauschenberg

Robert Rauschenberg

The United Nations Conference On Human Settlements

Swann Galleries, New York

August 5, 2015

$1,235  USD

 Great seal of the state of Florida by Robert Rauschenberg

Robert Rauschenberg

Great seal of the state of Florida

Galartis SA, Lausanne

August 2, 2015

$1,060  USD

 Arcanum by Robert Rauschenberg

Robert Rauschenberg

Arcanum

Gray's Auctioneers, Cleveland

July 31, 2015

$1,600  USD

 Arcanum VI by Robert Rauschenberg

Robert Rauschenberg

Arcanum VI

Gray's Auctioneers, Cleveland

July 31, 2015

$600  USD

 Arcanum VII by Robert Rauschenberg

Robert Rauschenberg

Arcanum VII

Gray's Auctioneers, Cleveland

July 31, 2015

 USD

 Gulf by Robert Rauschenberg

Robert Rauschenberg

Gulf

Gray's Auctioneers, Cleveland

July 31, 2015

$1,000  USD

 Surface series from currents: seven prints (foster 108, 111-113, 117, 118 & 121) by Robert Rauschenberg

Robert Rauschenberg

Surface series from currents: seven prints (foster

Sotheby's, New York

July 22, 2015

$4,375  USD

 Features from currents: Five Prints (Foster 128, 131, 139, 143 & 150) by Robert Rauschenberg

Robert Rauschenberg

Features from currents: Five Prints (Foster 128, 1

Sotheby's, New York

July 22, 2015

$5,250  USD

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