Proposal for Robert Rauschenberg Emerging Curator Competition

Artsy Editors
Oct 20, 2014 5:45AM

My proposal is to show Rauschenberg's life and work and what influenced his art work, what the meaning of a piece is and what it represents based on what impacted him as an artist at the time of when his creative process took place.


Robert Rauschenberg

 Robert Rauschenberg is born as Milton Ernest Rauschenberg Oct 22 1925, in Port Huron, TX. Changed his named to Robert at an early age.

After a short career in the military that ends with a honorable discharge and a later disappointing pharmacology school fail, finds himself wanting to find his way as an artist. Aware of his own talent enrolls in Kansas City art institute, saves money and sets sail to Paris and joins the Julien Academy, where he meets fellow student Susan Weil and falls in love.  when  he finds himself in trouble trying to understand instruction in the Academy goes back to the US and enrolls in the Black Mountain College in North Carolina, where most of his artistic genius come to light.

In the late 1940s at the Black Mountain College Under the instruction of Josef Albers (former instructor of the Bauhaus Germany) develops the Werklehre method (design with emphasis on craft),  which he develops and uses in most of his artwork, at this point he sets a statement creating the work "This Is the First Half of a Print Designed to Exist in Passing Time", which sets off a new start towards a new breed of art and leaves behind the conventional school and breaks in a new path into the experimental and conceptual.

His spirit of adventurer takes him to New York in 1949 where he is majorly exposed to the new abstract impressionists movement and a whole world of avant garde ambiance, the cultural societies help him forge his soul with new inspirations, at this point he meets John Cage and Merce Cunningham that convince him to meddle in the world of experimental music and dance movements, choice that he will never regret, this broadens his horizons in new ways, incursioned in the performance world he makes elaborated stage sets and costumes, this brings to him to new understandings on aesthetics and perceptions that he will never leave behind when elaborating a work of art.

Susan Weil, His partner is the first to show him the methods on exposing blue print paper, on their work his obvious intrusion into the new and abstract art is noticeable, a vivid example of this approach is "the female figure" that roams the realms of the abstract and color to convey an idea. Unfortunately his relation ends leaving behind a son and an excellent collection of Art that tells the beginning of the story. subsequently the piece created by Rauschenberg in the beginning of the 1950's called "mother of god" silently shows an empty circle in the middle of a series of maps that gives a sorrow felling  of a son and a mother and a Robert  that is like almost asking for forgiveness.

The friendship with talented artists gave him the freedom to explore new lands, and other cultures, in the case of the relationship with Cy Twombly, on their trip to Cuba, Rauschenberg experiments with transfer drawing, an example of that is "Untitled (1952)" which shows the beginnings of Rauschenberg trying to find the use of color and patterns to convey structure, the site itself serves as a source of inspiration that he adopts as a cannon for colors for future use.

On his next trip to Italy he and Cy take multiple photographs that document the trip that he later uses in his own artwork, the collage Bob + Cy shows them lavishly enjoying the sun in Europe sitting next to a statue of a horse that decisively give a stride forward, almost like stating that these two are unstoppable, this trip leads him to make his first three series of works that identify Rauschenberg in future works in the way he brands his Art in series and the accuracy and perfection each are done; North African Collage, Feticci Personalli, Scatole Personali, are the birth of a career that will give generations to come much to talk about.

His adventurous spirit doesn't stop there, his hunger for adventure leads him one day to go personally and ask the famed Willem De Kooning for one of his works "one that he could erase" are his textual words, he explained it was for the new project he was working on, leaving no choice, De Kooning opts for giving him a drawing that would be almost impossible to erase, one with ink, crayon and charcoal on it, which take him weeks to erase, he finally erases it and creates "Erased De Kooning". Another move that shows Rauschenbergs darefulness is "Automobile tire print", which consisted of John Cage driving a car with an inked tire, over a set of glued pages, and thus creating a composition unique in its kind, the rest is left for the critics.

Another person that later enters Rauschenberg's life is Jasper Johns, he is one of Rauschenberg's best friends, so much that leave much to rumor and speculation to their proximity, Jasper spends many hours with Rauschenberg at work in their window display enterprise and in their studio,  their influence on each other is marked on their composition and inspiration points, they may have the same taste or both where inspired by the same sources, an example for that could be Rauschenberg's "Yoics" where the striped pattern on the work resembles the stripes of an american flag which was the signature work of Jasper johns at the time.

Rauschenberg was a perfectionist and hard working not all his work was risky or abrupt, he had a  target in mind, he always finished his works or improved them to make them better, he was regarded with much respect by his peers for his constant quest for perfection his dedication to perfection marked a new chapter in the Neo-Dada movement, he also liked to render homage to his fellow artist and friends, such as the trophy series that he dedicated to his closest friends. A work that raises eyebrows is the early work "Minutiae", the work is done in a three dimensional standing format made with two dimensional compositions in panels composed with fabrics, newspaper,  and oil. This work was done alternately with Merce Cunninham's Minutae performance, the work makes reference to stage curtains and the dimensions of a theater, it transcends from what a work of art does to the expectative of a scene of a stage performance.

In 1954 his first combines come to life, the constant use of reds and opaque colors are predominant in his work and an air of avant garde come to our senses when we look at his pieces, an important and significant piece is "Monogram" which is one of his most famous works, is a work that is divided in different stages in the way of the remaking and recycling parts of the structure in itself. The combines are enigmatic and abstract but surprisingly aesthetic with a tone of harmonious and perfect elaboration, they mark their way into the contemporary art world, many failed to see this at the time, but later in his career many compare him to Picasso for his contribution in the Art world. A direct influence in his work was Marcel Duchamp, he was a major source of inspiration for Rauschenberg, Duchamp was addressed with respect by Rauschenberg and  also vice versa, later in a interview given to Duchamp he quotes: "Do you know the works by Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns?", Raushenberg read his quote and quickly collected the clipping to preserve it dearly. Many praised Rauschenberg as a genius, Andy Warhol made a series of prints that elevated Raushcenberg's life for his contribution in the art world, others didn't like him that much like Edward Kienholz that mocked some of his work by making similar art with in a joke like similitude. 

Not everything was glory for the famed Rauschenberg, a meaningful step in his career was the development of the series "Dante's Inferno" which took him various years to accomplish and several helping hands to get to analyse Dante's poems so he can transcribe them into two dimensional depictions,  he was stopped at a point by lack of funds but he later overcame the obstacle and brought it to a completion, this one was one of Rauschenberg most complex challenges of his career.  

His incursion into the electronic world came into play while experimenting with new mediums, his late career works show many collaborations with engineers to bring to life many of his most sophisticated  and elaborated works, Mud Muse is one of these, which feature a glass box with sand that reacts to sound stimulus. 

Rauschenberg steep way to fame came thanks to the art dealer Leo Castelli that helped him in his most formative stages all the way to the peak moments of his career, his incursion in the art world came thanks to his advice and ways to recognize his genius. Rauschenberg was known well on many levels of society even by politicians and presidents, Rauschenbergs became an advocate for artists rights in a quest for better copyright protection and to protect artists and their well being, this came from his friendship with politicians such as senator Jacob Javits that help him fight injustice for artists rights, He was friends with United Nations and founder of many movements that aimed to help society and the world in general, Rauschenberg collaborated with many collages and posters to promote these causes. 

Robert Rauschenbergs won many prizes including the Venice Biennale, his legacy is preserved all over the world by his philantropic collaboration and contribution to the Art world. Robert Rauschenberg dies on May 12 2008.

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