Robert Rauschenberg

Robert Milton Ernest Rauschenberg ( born October 22, 1925 in Port Arthur, Texas; † 12 May, 2008 on Captiva Iceland, Florida) was an American painter, printmaker, photographer, and object artist and a pioneer of pop art in the 20th century, although his complex body of work can not be collect for this style.

Rauschenberg believed that he strives for reunification of the artistic image of reality could be achieved with the reality of life is best characterized by obsolete parts in the real world unchanged in the art.

So he combined in his works about tennis balls, car tires, bikes and stuffed goats on cryptic manner. Unlike other material an artist, he changed this material remains the "real world " is not, but Reserve left them as they are.

Artistic influences

Artistic role models and creatures were related for Rauschenberg especially German Dadaist artists such as Kurt Schwitters, the painter and art theorist Josef Albers, but also the Fluxus artist Joseph Beuys. But a not to be underestimated reference point in the artistic development of Rauschenberg's well presented Willem de Kooning dar. as the main representatives of Abstract Expressionism, the leading in the American postwar abstract painting view that he was with Albers for Rauschenberg to kick-start a personal rebellion. After studying at the Kansas City Art Institute and the Académie Julian in Paris was the color field painting of his teacher Josef Albers at Black Mountain College, North Carolina, which he attended in 1948, and the abstract work de Kooning - in simple terms - for his understanding too little part of the real and plastic food world he sought increasingly to integrate into his art - life equation. The power required by Albers discipline and demanded methodological and theoretical approach to the creation of art seduced Rauschenberg - as he said - to always " exactly the opposite " of what Albers taught to do. The erased by Rauschenberg with de Kooning's consent graphite drawing, is the icon of this paradigm shift in the art of the 1950s through to Pop Art.

White, Black and Red Paintings

The step in the artistic independence took Rauschenberg in 1951 with the white images, the seven monochrome white boards his White Painting, which he in his first solo exhibition at the Betty Parsons Gallery, New York, exhibited, and which had the purpose, " the painting eradicate ". The theme of " silence" was discussed, as well as the viewer of the image and its surroundings, such as the time or the shadow of the viewer is reflected in the image are part of the work should. He created them from Wandmalfarbe that he rolled on the canvas. In 1951, he erased from a drawing of his colleagues in New York, Willem de Kooning, a no less radical gesture to settle accounts with the superior power of American Abstract Expressionism.

The black images were also built around 1951 Here Rauschenberg was as follows:. , He painted the canvases with shiny black color and then painted over this with matt black paint. Robert Rauschenberg used the color black to make disappear beneath the footsteps of tradition and own conditioning and then to invent their basic vocabulary new. Black stood by Rauschenberg for self-restraint on the quasi - nothingness that served him in the search for himself as a starting point. For Rauschenberg meant black and the not-knowing how it would go on for him artistically. The color black appears associated with a process of transformation. They can be interpreted as a means to cross the border - as a transgression from the visible to the invisible, from the material to the spiritual, from the conscious to the unconscious. Fact that it was black images are an expression of a change, could be explained by their nightly properties. The night is in mysticism, mythology, art and literature for change. Seeing in the dark changed the perception. The longer one stays in the dark, the more you delve into them, the more contoured to the environment. The process of seeing becomes the center - a conscious, perhaps more precise vision. It may even also have the desire behind wanting to recognize the environment. For then enables the night the special quality of non- ( s ) - seeing, this is the equivalent of the not-knowing. This lack of knowledge as a form of purification is in turn is a prerequisite for change.

Alongside Paris - - In light of the evolution of Abstract Expressionism, the impression that American artists were also taken during the years 1950-1965 from the idea to break away from the formative influence of European tradition and New York, a new center the avant-garde justified. Against this background, the Black Paintings act as it were the expression of a collective pursuit of artistic self-assertion. With open eyes, to look at a black screen, is similar to the vision of the night. The artist, who opts for black, the eye requires a vision from which accustomed to darkness: The view meets Black; the alleged non ( s ) being able to see results in a contrast - being able to see, a more nuanced vision: about recognizing nuances in color and texture. The difficult point of view increases the concentration on the visible and invisible, maybe even on the essence of things and one's self. This applies primarily to the viewer of the image, but it can also apply to the artist on an existential level. (see Black Paintings )

The red images were taken from Rauschenberg's response to the lack of understanding the previous white - and black images against. His teacher Albers had humility of color against teach him, and so he tried to venture to the color, which was the most difficult in his eyes: red.

To date, this series of pictures of the White, Black and Red is considered the most radical of Rauschenberg.

Happenings, music and theater

The emphasis of the voltage ratio of artwork to life world Rauschenberg tied directly to the work of his friend John Cage, to open up new areas of sound, everyday sounds recorded in his compositions with. With Cage and the dancer Merce Cunningham, Rauschenberg was always the initiator of happenings and theatrical performances. He was mostly responsible for sets, costumes and props, but also for the development of the choreography and even held as a member of the ensemble performers. Between 1964 and 1968 he directed 11 choreographies.

Combine Painting

His style representing these works were mostly in the period from 1953 to the early 1960s. It is neo-Dadaist collages, consisting of a combination of Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art expressed through paintings in conjunction with mounted thereon everyday objects (eg light bulbs, kitchen appliances, postcards, comics, printmaking leaves, wallpaper remnants, stuffed animals, radios etc. ) which have been painted part. Painting is " combined " with objects and expanded so toward three-dimensional space. Therefore, the traditional boundary between painting and sculpture is canceled.

Rauschenberg said to his works, that they are distinguished by reality. In his view, the painting was at the crossroads between art and life, and he was trying to close the gap that separated them.

Dealing with found objects, materials of everyday life, had influenced him in a work period in which he had pitched his studio located in New York. There arose the so-called " Elemental Sculptures", experimental works from paving stones and other found materials that he found in the immediate surroundings of his studio. The sculptures stand between " readymades " and Dadaist assemblages, where Rauschenberg emphasized the peculiarity of these findings and they did not want to revaluate in a shift in context. In these works the development of Pop Art is a part owed ​​to the influence, on the other hand, here is the starting point for Rauschenberg placed further development of his work so far painting and sculpture to be pursued as separate areas. In the " Combines" Rauschenberg distinguished the " combine paintings " and the free-standing " Combines" such as " Odalisque " of 1955 / 58th " Monogram " (1959 ) is the most famous of his " combine paintings ".

The Combines often reveal a satirical intent and ironic paraphrases of dreams of the consumer society and of typical figures of our time.

Photography and screen printing

1962 saw Rauschenberg for the screen printing process to coincide with the first photo mechanically reproduced silkscreens of Andy Warhol. But unlike Warhol, he avoided the stereotyped repetition and isolation of the subject in favor of a complex substantive content that appeals to the political and social consciousness of the viewer directly, "I want people to shake ," said Rauschenberg, " I want the people the consider material and react to it. I want to make them aware of your individual responsibility, both for themselves and for the rest of humanity. How easy is it to be the opposite world complacent. The fact that you spend a few pennies for a newspaper, soothes almost your conscience. With reading you think you 've already done your part. And you wrap your conscience in the newspaper, just like you waste your wrap up in it. "

In the autumn he began to apply the screen printing technique on his canvases. He developed a transfer process of printed materials ( images and text ) by means of solvents. The transmission of three-dimensional objects, textiles and materials on the surface generated by Rauschenberg presensitised lithographic stones. This allowed him the combination of free running games with photographs and objects, and thus related to the disposal of all templates. Other advantages of the photomechanical offset method lay in its enlargement and in the intensity of color.

Also in 1962 Rauschenberg began with the first lithographs. From the collaboration with various prints he wore a lot of knowledge also returned to the medium of drawing.

In combined techniques of screen printing and lithography grandiose works created with the frequent theme of the interaction of people and technology such as Booster (1967). They are among the largest printing, Rauschenberg has produced.


The late 1960s to the early 1970s, Rauschenberg began experimenting with electronics and teamed up with Billy Klüver the project " Experiments in Art and Technology" ( EAT). It created image objects and sculptures, the sounds and music integrated or responded to noise. The goal was to create a non- commercial society, which should promote collaboration between artists and engineers and the hope of a happy future of world society. So four complicated, multi-media and designed for interaction tasks such as Oracle ( 1965), Soundings (1968), Solstice (1968) and Mud - Muse created (1971).

1970s and 1980s and R.O.C.I.

In the 1970s, Rauschenberg attempted in different materials such as cardboard ( Cardboars and Cardbirs ) and transparent fabrics ( Hoarfrosts ) and he strove to increase by symmetrical arrangement of structurally similar elements of the action ( bifocals ). His works have ease, they are placed in the room and sometimes the floor and ceiling are linked together and covered with semi- transparent fabric. In 1973/74 was, for example, S. Agnese, Untitled ( Venetian ).

It showed against a hesitant opening of the color. Here you can see the influence of Josef Albers - Rauschenberg's teacher at Black Mountain College. This put him in a deliberate use of color.

End of the 70 Rauschenberg began with The ¼ Mile or 2 Furlong Piece: Work should be a response to the confusion of the time such as despair over Cambodia or Vietnam. The plant is about 400 meters long and consists of collages, paintings and objects. It is a direct reflection of the artist at his time - a chronicle of his imaginations, experiences, fears and obsessions.

In 1983 Rauschenberg began to appreciate the techniques he had used 20 years earlier. Here he was concerned with arresting, mountains and preserving images that were originally provided in a different context. Rauschenberg picked up the screen printing technique again on a broader basis for large canvases. Now he no longer took his motives the mass media, but put their own photos based.

The 70s and 1980s were generally Rauschenberg a time of great projects, travels and collaborations. In 1971 he moved his residence from New York to Iceland Captiva, Florida, and founded his own publishing house and a studio, also Change Inc., a non-profit organization that funds in distress artist provides.

In 1984, the global project Rauschenberg Overseas Culture Interchange ( ROCI ), a traveling exhibition with a changing stock of around 200 works of art that are created in collaboration with artists and craftsmen in their respective countries. The artist traveled from 1984 to 1991, ten countries to process the respective culture -specific visual - in collaboration with local artists. The stations were Chile, Venezuela, Mexico, the Soviet Union, Tibet, Japan and Berlin - in 1990 as the capital of the GDR. " ROCI started with my decision to do something about the world crisis, rather than to give myself the midlife crisis ," he said.

The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, founded in 1990 as a non-profit organization dedicated to scientific research projects and socio-political educational work.

The artist Rauschenberg is in addition to these activities remained always present - the paintings and sculptures of the 1990s show him as ingenious Fort leader of the developed in the 1950s, the concept of " Combines", that is, his claim of a lossless conversion as possible of reality in art.

Position in art criticism and art-historical classification

Rauschenberg's first major recognition was the gold medal at the Venice Biennale 1964. For his cover for the Talking Heads album Speaking in Tongues, he won a Grammy Award. In 1998, the Praemium Imperiale awarded him, a kind of " Nobel Prize for Art " of the Japanese imperial family. Robert Rauschenberg took part in documenta II ( 1959), Documenta III (1964 ), the documenta 4 (1968 ) and documenta 6 in Kassel in 1977.

Art-historically valid Rauschenberg as a preparer of American Pop Art, although his complex body of work is to assign more than one style. "K (k ) aum any other artist of the 20th century has so many generic and stylistic boundaries skipped like Robert Rauschenberg. "

His use of everyday objects in the Combine paintings was important example of the method of assemblage, the objet trouvé and Arte Povera. Rauschenberg is an artist of Postmodernism. Rauschenberg constantly presented in his works the questions: How is something perceived by whom? What is memory and what time, which is an image and what an object? How to behave production and reception? Rauschenberg's main theme was communication and perception. Also interested him the epistemological problem - the question of how to behave continuity and change each other.

Rauschenberg's pictorial approach based on two fundamental principles of modernity: collage and readymade and he was primarily a graphic artist and painter. He thought in space and understand the space for the movement - this confirms his dancing engagement. He was interested in matter, form, function and motor skills; Representational over Spatial and characters more as a sculptural volume.

For Rauschenberg all art could be - there's an equality among things. Anything can serve the art, everything has its beauty and authority. This was reflected in his works formally: in his complex work one encounters hardly a prominent center. Hierarchical structures he refused and attracts a democratic motif distribution before - an equal juxtaposition of motifs.

His art seeks direct contact with the viewer. He graduated from no formal solutions from the outset and sat down across cultural, geographical and financial boundaries.

Among the visual artists Rauschenberg was the most important and active protagonist of a synthesis of art and technology and its representations are in high level expression of the cultural and socio-political realities of the period in which they were designed and created.


The painter, who himself winking as " mongrel mixture " called himself, had German and Native American roots: A grandfather came from Berlin, a grandmother was a Cherokee. Rauschenberg lived and worked on Captiva Iceland. Since suffering a stroke in 2002, he was in a wheelchair and was limited in his freedom of movement by paralysis. The work was designed by him implemented with the help of assistants. Robert Rauschenberg was dyslexic.

He died in 2008 at the age of 82 years on Captiva Iceland, Florida.


  • "I am of the opinion that a work of art is real, if it is made ​​from parts of the real world. "
  • "I hate ideas, if only I had a time, I walk to forget them. "
  • " Art should have no concept ... This is the only concept that has been considered consistently for me "
  • " Something like a finished work of art that it is not for me. "

Important individual exhibitions

  • Robert Rauschenberg - Retrospective. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; The Menil Collection, Houston, Texas; Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Houston, Texas; Museum Ludwig, Cologne; Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. September 1997 - March 1999
  • Robert Rauschenberg - Combines. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Musée National d' Art Moderne, Paris; Moderna Museet, Stockholm. December 2005 - May 2007
  • Robert Rauschenberg - traveling '70 - '76. Haus der Kunst, Munich. May 2008 - September 2008
  • " Robert Rauschenberg: Gluts " Museo Guggenheim de Arte Moderno y Contemporáneo, Bilbao. February 2010 - September 2010