Robert Rauschenberg, ‘Soviet / American Array ll’, 1990, Zane Bennett Contemporary Art

Robert Rauschenberg (American, 1925–2008) was renowned as an enfant terrible, famous for his 1950s work in the period between Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art. Born in Port Arthur, TX, Rauschenberg was barely exposed to art until he attended school. His most significant art education took place at the Black Mountain College, which exposed him to influential artists such as Josef Albers and John Cage. In his early years in New York, he gained attention for his Black Paintings and White Paintings; during this time he also became very close friends with the painter Jasper Johns, who greatly influenced Rauschenberg's work. In the 1950s, Rauschenberg began to incorporate any material he could scavenge into his combines (sculptural collages) by incorporating found objects, traditional brush strokes, photographs, and any other materials he encountered. This interplay between materials defined Rauschenberg's entire career; he also experimented with silk screening and solvent transfers on a diverse selection of surfaces, as he explored the boundaries of traditional art forms and incorporated the vast visual offerings of American culture into his work such as Signs. Rauschenberg also developed an interest in art activism: his “Experiments in Art and Technology” (EAT) initiative encouraged collaborations between artists and scientists; the “Rauschenberg Overseas Culture Interchange” (ROCI) project allowed him to visit locations worldwide to work with artists and exhibit his own art; and the non-profit “Change, Inc.” helps struggling artists pay medical expenses. Rauschenberg died of heart failure in Captiva, Florida, in 2008.

Signature: signed lower center:signed and dated in pencil with publisher seal embossed in lower right corner

About Robert Rauschenberg

Robert Rauschenberg’s enthusiasm for popular culture and, with his contemporary Jasper Johns, his rejection of the angst and seriousness of the Abstract Expressionists led him to search for a new way of painting. A prolific innovator of techniques and mediums, he used unconventional art materials ranging from dirt and house paint to umbrellas and car tires. In the early 1950s, Rauschenberg was already gaining a reputation as the art world’s enfant terrible with works such as Erased de Kooning Drawing (1953), for which he requested a drawing (as well as permission) from Willem de Kooning, and proceeded to rub away the image until only ghostly marks remained on the paper. By 1954, Rauschenberg completed his first three-dimensional collage paintings—he called them Combines—in which he incorporated discarded materials and mundane objects to explore the intersection of art and life. “I think a picture is more like the real world when it’s made out of the real world,” he said. In 1964 he became the first American to win the International Grand Prize in Painting at the Venice Biennale. The 1/4 Mile or Two Furlong Piece (1981–98), a cumulative artwork, embodies his spirit of eclecticism, comprising a retrospective overview of his many discrete periods, including painting, fabric collage, sculptural components made from cardboard and scrap metal, as well as a variety of image transfer and printing methods.

American, 1925-2008, Port Arthur, Texas, based in New York and Captiva Island, Florida