Robert Rauschenberg

November 26, 2011

Throughout his extensive career of experimentation, American painter Robert Rauschenberg constantly sought alternative modes and materials. After studying in Paris and then at Black Mountain College in North Carolina, Rauschenberg moved to New York to pursue a career in painting. He immediately became disillusioned with the pretensions of Abstract Expressionists and decided to paint and construct works using nontraditional materials. Combines, a term Rauschenberg invented to describe his mixed media collages, redefine the notion of a collage by granting a different role to commonplace objects. One of his most famous Combines, Monogram (1959), incorporates a tire, a shoe, a stuffed goat, a police barrier, paint, and a tennis ball. Untitled (Combine) 1958 features oil painting on a Solo coffee cup lid, which is mounted on paper within the artist’s frame.  Combine works are exceedingly rare, however, few examples can be found in the collections of MOCA, MoMA, Whitney Museum of American Art, and Moderna Museet, Stockholm. In addition to his Combines, Rauschenberg’s work has spanned many genres, including photography, collage, and performance art. In 1998, four hundred of Rauschenberg’s works were exhibited at his career-spanning retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum.

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