Robert Rauschenberg

Robert Rauschenberg was one of the great giants of American post-war art. His visionary practice probed the boundaries between media, synthesising painting, collage, sculpture, printmaking, photography and performance art. Best known for his Combines, he explored the relationship between art and everyday life, anticipating the evolution of Pop Art during the 1960s.

Born in Texas in 1925, Rauschenberg studied at the Kansas City Art Institute and the Académie Julian in Paris. In 1948 he enrolled at the revolutionary Black Mountain College in North Carolina, where he was taught by Josef Albers. He also met the composer John Cage and the choreographer Merce Cunningham, both of whom would become frequent collaborators.

Rauschenberg moved to New York in 1949, where he attended the Art Students League. Among his close circle were Cy Twombly and Jasper Johns. Together, these artists challenged the prevailing trends of Abstract Expressionism. Rauschenberg’s White Paintings and so-called ‘black paintings’ of the early 1950s were purposefully drained of colour and expression. In 1953 he made his iconic Erased de Kooning Drawing (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art), asking whether art could be created by the process of deletion.

In 1954 Rauschenberg began his series of Combines, made by ‘combining’ elements of painting and sculpture. These assemblages incorporated found objects, extending the legacy of Marcel Duchamp’s ‘readymades’. Important examples include Bed (1955, Museum of Modern Art, New York), Monogram (1955–59, Moderna Museet, Stockholm) and Canyon (1959, Museum of Modern Art, New York).

Following a visit to Andy Warhol’s studio in 1962, Rauschenberg began to explore screen print techniques. He used photographs from newspapers and journals as well as his own snapshots. These works account for some of his top auction prices: Buffalo II (1964) set a new world record for the artist when it sold for US$88.8 million at Christie’s in 2019.

Over the following decades Rauschenberg continued to expand the scope of his art: from his celebrated performance piece Open Score (1966), to set and costume designs, to major silkscreen and textile works made in his studio on Captiva Island, Florida. He travelled the world, campaigned for environmental issues and embraced new image-making technologies. Rauschenberg died in 2008, leaving behind one of the 20th century’s most wide-ranging and ambitious bodies of work.


ROBERT RAUSCHENBERG (1925-2008)

Composition, from Tares

ROBERT RAUSCHENBERG (1925-2008)

Why You Can't Tell #2, from Suite of Nine Prints

ROBERT RAUSCHENBERG (1925-2008)

Shoot from the Main Stem, from Suite of Nine Prints

ROBERT RAUSCHENBERG (1925-2008)

Back Out, from Suite of Nine Prints

ROBERT RAUSCHENBERG (1925-2008)

Soviet/American Array IV

ROBERT RAUSCHENBERG (1925-2008)

Democratic Presidential Campaign Print

Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008)

Johanson's Painting

ROBERT RAUSCHENBERG (1925-2008)

Rodeo Palace (Spread)

Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008)

Drawings for Dante's 700th birthday

Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008)

Drawing for Dante's 700th Birthday

Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008)

Untitled (locomotive)

Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008)

Page 86, Paragraph 7

ROBERT RAUSCHENBERG (1925-2008)

New Yoicks (Spread)

Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008)

Untitled (Urban Bourbon)

Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008)

Party Line (Arcadian Retreat)

Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008)

Power Stack / ROCI VENEZUELA

Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008)

Untitled (Foot Dissection)

Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008)

Untitled (Insects)

Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008)

Wolf Wood (Urban Bourbon series)

Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008)

Untitled (Elemental Sculpture)

Robert Rauschenberg (b. 1925)

Complete Relaxation