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Robert Rauschenberg (American, 1925-2008)


Birth Place: Port Arthur (Jefferson county, Texas, United States)

Robert Rauschenberg was an American graphic artist and painter born in Port Arthur, Texas on October 22, 1925. Born Milton Ernest Rauschenburg, he was educated at institutions such as Kansas City Art Institute and Academie Julian. He became well known for his progressive works such as "Combines," White Paintings, Red Paintings, and Black Paintings, and is generally classified as being a part of the Neo-Dada and Abstract Expressionism movements. In 1963 his untitled "combine" was a quintessential pop art piece, a movement that emerged in the mid-1950s and of which Rauschenberg was at the forefront.

"Combines" merged Rauschenberg's love of painting and sculpting, but he also worked in photography, papermaking, printmaking, and performance. He was often quoted as saying he wished to work "in the gap between art and life," summarizing his belief that art objects and everyday objects were not so removed from one another as people seemed to think. This belief was perhaps best expressed in a sculpture/installment piece entitled Riding Bikes which he displayed in Berlin, Germany on a street corner in 1998.

Ahead of his time, Rauschenberg and Billy Kluver collaborated in 1966 to launch Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.), which is a non-profit established for the purpose of encouraging collaboration between artists and engineers. Continuing in his legacy of proving that art and life are one and the same, he created Currents, a 1970 silkscreen piece measuring 16.5 meters in length in which he used newspapers from the first two months of the year. In 2008, Rauschenberg passed away from heart failure after making a personal decision to be removed from life support. However, his legacy in art, performance, and life continues to live on and inspire others.

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