Robert Rauschenberg, ‘Study for Chinese Summerhall (Firedrill)’, 1983, Cerbera Gallery

Artist: Robert Rauschenberg
Title: Study for Chinese Summerhall (Firedrill)
Medium: C-Print Color Photograph
Size: Image size: 26.5 x 26.5” | Archivally framed in white ash, 43.75" x 41.25”
Year: 1983
Edition: 30
Signed, ‘83

Robert (Milton Ernst) Rauschenberg, an American painter was born on October 22, 1925, in Port Arthur, Texas. He studied at the Kansas City Art Institute (1946–7), the Académie Julien, Paris (1947), and with Josef Albers and John Cage at Black Mountain College, North Carolina (1948–50).

Traveling widely, he was based in New York City from 1950, where he and Jasper Johns paved the way for pop art of the 1960s. He worked with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, New York, as costume and stage designer (1955–64).

An imaginative and eclectic artist, he used a mix of sculpture and paint in works he called ‘combines’, as seen in The Bed (1955). From the late 1950s he incorporated sound and motors in his work, such as Broadcast (1959), and silk-screen transfers, as in Flush (1964).

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, he experimented with collage and new ways to transfer photographs. In 1997 the Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York City, staged a major exhibition of his works, showcasing the breadth and beauty of his work and its influence over the second half of the century. he Guggenheim Museum has exhibited the largest retrospective of Rauschenberg’s work to date (1997), which traveled to the Menil Collection, Contemporary Arts Museum, and Museum of Fine Arts, all in Houston (1998); and then traveled to Europe (1998–99) with exhibitions at Museum Ludwig, Cologne (1998); and Guggenheim Museum Bilbao (1998–99). Also in 1998, the Vatican commissioned (and later refused) a work by Rauschenberg based on the Apocalypse for Renzo Piano’s pilgrimage church in Foggia, Italy. The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, hosted a survey of the artist’s Combines (1999), and the Guggenheim Foundation organized the memorial exhibition Robert Rauschenberg: Gluts for the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice (2009), which traveled to the Museum Tinguely, Basel (2009–10); Guggenheim Museum Bilbao (2010); and Villa e Collezione Panza, Varese, Italy (2010–11). Rauschenberg’s last stage set was for Cunningham’s Xover (crossover) (2007), based on his own painting Plank (2003).

Artist Robert Rauschenberg died on May 12, 2008 in Lee County, Florida.

Signature: Signed by artist

Image rights: Cerbera Gallery, Inc.

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