American artist, Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008) was born in Port Arthur, Texas. In 1947, he was admitted to the Kansas City Art Institute. He furthered his academic art training at the Académie Julian in Paris the following year. In 1948, he went to Black Mountain College in North Carolina where Josef Albers taught him.
Throughout his career, Robert Rauschenberg revolted against Abstract Expressionism that was deeply rooted in the postwar American art scene. Robert Rauschenberg’s works imbued a new sensibility in art – to embrace the existing state of American pop culture. While Rauschenberg agreed with the goals of the New York School group (comprising of Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Robert Motherwell, etc.), which was to liberate American art from the influence of the European avant-garde, he was also concerned with bridging the gap between the notion of high art with the general audience, a similar inquiry instigated by Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain (1917).
Upon settling in New York in 1953, Rauschenberg used found materials and applied/appropriated them on his black paintings as a way to question the gap between art objects and everyday objects. By 1955, Rauschenberg began to create hybrid works called Combines, engendering an art form that is considered simultaneously sculptural and pictorial, due to the use of trash and found objects on a canvas surface. Rauschenberg then transitioned to the use of silkscreen printing and transfer drawings from books, magazines and photographs onto the canvas.
He was awarded the Golden Lion Grand Prize at the 1964 Venice Biennale for his continuous research into a new pictorial representation in painting. It is the first time an American artist received this award. In addition to the American economic and military dominance, the American cultural influence trailblazed across Europe as a result of his recognition at the Venice Biennale. By the 1990s, Rauschenberg began to adopt modern and environmentally friendly technology as new ways to push the limits of incorporating photographic images in his works.
In the 1970s, the artist opened his permanent studio space on Captiva Island, Florida, which was transformed into an artist residency by the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation in 2012. Robert Rauschenberg has had numerous exhibitions at the following locations: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA (1997); Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany (1998); Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Portugal (1998-99, 2010); Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA (1999); Centre Pompidou, Paris, France (2007); Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, Italy (2009); Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden (2007), Villa e Collezione, Varese, Italy (2010-2011); Hamburger Banhof, Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin, Germany (2012); Livingstone Gallery, The Hague, Netherlands (2014); University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Art History Gallery, Milwaukee, USA (2015); Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, USA (2015); Tate Modern, London, UK (2016). MoMA will organize a Rauschenberg retrospective show in May 2017.