Remembering Robert Rauschenberg
Invention and bold experimentation are the legacy of Robert
Rauschenberg’s legendary art career. On May 12, 2008, he died of heart
failure in his Florida home and studio.
Considered a man of many talents, he had his hand in every
thinkable artistic medium, and his notoriety stems from his ability to
challenge assumptions about art and its categories. His works meld
together sculpture, painting, installation, performance, choreography,
and more, and he has placed his mark on over a half-century’s art
movements, both fleeting and lasting. Open source lovers, who find art
in the everyday, have Rauschenberg to thank for reinterpreting the
questions of Marcel Duchamp and embodying the spirit of Dada in more contemporary terms. The prefix “neo-” is invariably attached to descriptions of his work.
“People ask me, ‘Don’t you ever run out of ideas?’ In the first
place I don’t use ideas. Every time I have an idea it’s too limiting,
and usually turns out to be a disappointment. But I haven’t run out of
For a retrospective
on the life and work of this remarkable artist, consider the contribution of
Yve-Alain Bois, whose book Robert Rauschenberg: Cardboards and Related Pieces
locates one exhibition, Cardboards, within the broader scope of
Rauschenberg’s oeuvre. Bois creates a
thorough and precise panorama through both detail and fresh
Robert S. Mattison also delivers original insights on Rauschenberg in his book Robert Rauschenberg: Breaking Boundaries. Mattison focuses on the man himself, his work process, and his astonishing influence on areas not limited to the arts. Enthusiastic praise for this book has labeled it a “tour de force.”
As important artists go, Rauschenberg is undeniable.