In 1959, Robert Rauschenberg wrote, “Painting relates to both art and life. Neither can be made. (I try to act in that gap between the two.)” His work in this gap shaped artistic practice for decades to come.
The early 1950s, when Rauschenberg (1925–2008) launched his career, was the heyday of the heroic gestural painting of Abstract Expressionism. Rauschenberg challenged this tradition with an egalitarian approach to materials, bringing the stuff of the everyday world into his art. Working alone and in collaboration with artists, dancers, musicians, and writers, he invented new, interdisciplinary modes of artistic practice that set the course for art of the present day. The ethos that permeates Rauschenberg’s work—openness, commitment to dialogue and collaboration, and global curiosity—makes him, now more than ever, a touchstone for our troubled times.
Robert Rauschenberg. 1970. Screen-print, comp.: 35 3⁄16 × 26 3⁄4 in., sheet: 43 × 34 in. Publisher: Castelli Graphics, New York. Edition: 250. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. © 2017 Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. Signs.
Peter Moore. Performance view of Robert Rauschenberg’s (1963), 1965. © Barbara Moore/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Courtesy Paula Cooper Gallery, New York. Pelican
Robert Rauschenberg and Susan Weil. Untitled (Double Rauschenberg). c. 1950. Exposed blueprint paper, 6 ft. 10 1/2 in. × 36 1/4 in. Cy Twombly Foundation. © 2017 Robert Rauschenberg Foundation.
Robert Rauschenberg. 1951, remade 1960s. Latex house paint applied with a roller and brush, seven panels, overall: 6 ft. × 10 ft. 5 in. Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, New York. © 2017 Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. White Painting.
Robert Rauschenberg. Untitled (Black Painting with Asheville Citizen). c. 1952. Asphaltum and newspaper on oil and metallic paint on canvas, two panels, overall: 6 ft. 2 in. × 28 1/2 in. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. © 2017 Robert Rauschenberg Foundation.
Robert Rauschenberg. Rome. 1952, printed 1980s. Gelatin silver print, 15 × 15 in. Courtesy Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, New York. © 2017 Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. Cy + Relics,
Robert Rauschenberg with John Cage. (detail). 1953. Tire-tread mark (front wheel) and tire-tread mark with house paint (rear wheel) made by Cage’s Model A Ford, driven by Cage over twenty sheets of typewriter paper fastened together with library paste, mounted on fabric, 16 1/2 in. × 22 ft. 1/2 in. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. © 2017 Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. Automobile Tire Print
Robert Rauschenberg. Untitled (Gold Painting). ca. 1953. Gold leaf on fabric and glue on Masonite in wood-and-glass frame. 12 ¼ x 12 5/8 x 1 1/8 inches. Joint bequest of Eve Clendenin to The Museum of Modern Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York © 2017 Robert Rauschenberg Foundation.
Robert Rauschenberg. . 1954. Oil, charcoal, printed reproductions, newspaper, wood, plastic mirror, men’s undershirt, umbrella, lace, ribbons and other fabrics, and metal on Homasote, mounted on wood, with electric light, overall: 7 ft. 5 in. × 9 ft. 4 in. × 3 1/2 in. Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. © 2017 Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. Charlene
Robert Rauschenberg. . 1963. Oil and silkscreen ink on canvas. 84 x 60 inches. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. © 2017 Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. Overdrive
Robert Rauschenberg. . 1968. Offset lithograph on three sheets of paper. 198 3/4 x 48 3/4 inches. From an edition of 2000, published by Broadside Art, Inc., New York © 2017 Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. Autobiography
Robert Rauschenberg. Poster for (Museo Nacional site), 1988. All offset lithograph, ranging from 34 1/2 in. to 38 3/8 in. high and from 23 3/4 to 24 1/4 in. wide), ROCI Cuba: silk-screen and offset lithograph on foil paper. Printer: Universal Limited Art Editions, West Islip, New York. © 2017 Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. ROCI Cuba
Trisha Brown. . 1979. With costumes, set, and lighting (with Beverly Emmons), by Rauschenberg. This performance at the Marymount Manhattan College Theater, New York, June 20–24, 1979. Left to right: Brown, Nina Lundborg, and Lisa Kraus. Photograph: Babette Mangolte © 1979 Babette Mangolte (All Rights of Reproduction Reserved). Glacial Decoy
Rehearsal for Rauschenberg’s (1965) in his Broadway studio, New York, 1965. Pictured from left: Alex Hay, Steve Paxton and Robert Rauschenberg. Photo Ugo Mulas. © 2017 Ugo Mulas Heirs. All rights reserved. Courtesy Archivio Ugo Mulas, Milan—Galleria Lia Rumma, Milan/Naples. Spring Training