Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Robert Rauschenberg: A Celebration of a Gifted Artist....

One of my favorite artists, as well as one of the most influential American artists of the 20th century, Robert Rauschenberg passed away last night at the age of 82.
A man who was able to mix sculpture and printmaking with painting and photography, created an area of art where the artists were not tied down to one specific medium and led the movement to postwar modernism.

He used the work and experience of Marchel Duchamp and others to breath new life into art with the mixing of various mediums, including technology and performance art. He bridged the gap between Expressionism was able to aid the leap in American art between Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. Rauschenberg was able to take a stuffed bird, an empty drawer and a collage of hot air balloons and transform it into a beautiful piece of art. He was an inspiration to others in his field and will go down as one of the formative names in the art world.

Robert served in World War II and used the money he received from the GI Bill to study art in Kansas City and Paris, France. After a few years on the circuit, he traveled to Europe and Africa with fellow artist Cy Twombly in the mid 1950’s and began piecing together found objects and formulating them into works of art. Once he returned to New York and began spending time with an at the time unknown Jasper Johns, the two began to produce some of the most foremost pieces of postwar American artwork. While the two lived together, they continued to work on and produce art together as well as fan the flames of rumors and gossip discussing a more “intimate” relationship between the two. By the mid 1960’s, Rauschenberg had been touted as the most important American artist since Jackson Pollock and had won the grand prize at the Venice Biennale, the first modern American to win such an award. His name became synonymous with progressive, modern and awe inspiring artwork. He held many shows throughout the following years and celebrated retrospectives at such respected museums like the Guggenheim and the Metropolitan Museum.

In the last few years, the artist created a home base and studio in Captiva, a small island off Florida’s Gulf Coast and returned to his residence in New York City often. He leaves behind years and years of wonderful work and the lesson that art is all about pushing boundaries and creating beauty. I had the opportunity to see a retrospective of his work at MOCA a few years ago and in person, I was blown away. A fan of his work for years, his ability to produce though provoking work with the simplest of materials is awe inspiring and has changed the way I look at art.

Sources: * NY Times
* Gawker