* 1925 Port Arthur/Texas
† 2008 Island of Captiva/Florida
The American painter, graphic and object artist Robert Rauschenberg was born in Port Arthur, Texas on October 22, 1925. In 1946/47 Rauschenberg studies at the Kansas City Art Institute, afterwards he attends the Académie Julian in Paris. He spends the years of 1948/49 at the Black Mountain College in North Carolina, where his teachers are Josef Albers and Jack Tworkov. He meets John Cage and Merce Cunningham at the Black Mountain College, with whom he will later on do theatre performances and happenings. In 1949/50 Rauschenberg visits the Art Students League in New York, where he meets Cy Twombly.
His first known picture is made in 1949. He puts numbers in a horizontal and vertical arrangement on a white ground. He executes the "White Paintings", a number of seven completely white paintings, in 1951, the "Black Paintings" follow, which are destroyed in a fire.
He makes object boxes as of 1952, into which Robert Rauschenberg puts materials such as stones, bones and pieces of wood. In the "Red Paintings" Rauschenberg paints over pieces of cloth or newspaper clips in various tones of red. The paintings and collages are then extended by three-dimensional everyday objects to the "Combine Paintings". Robert Rauschenberg integrates objects from everyday life into his work in order to combine art and reality. He thus becomes an important precursor of Pop-Art. The works "Door" (1954) and "Bed" (1955) belong to the incunables of Pop-Art.
He travels to Italy and North Africa in 1952/53 and goes on short trips to Europe over the following years, mostly to Paris.
From 1953 to 1965 Robert Rauschenberg and Merce Cunningham work on stage and costume designs for the Cunninghams Dance Company. In 1961 Rauschenberg participates in performances in Paris, for instance with Niki de Saint-Phalle and Jean Tinguely.
Robert Rauschenberg makes his first film "Canoe" in 1966. The same year he and the two engineers Billy Klüver and Fred Waldhauer as well as the artist Robert Whitman start the project "Experiments in Art and Technology" (EAT) with the objective to explore the interdependency between art, technology and industry.
Robert Rauschenberg and Robert Petersen found the experimental printshop "Untitled Press., Inc." on Captiva Island, where he has a studio.
From 1974 to 1976 he works on the book "Traces Suspectes en Surface" together with the writer Alain Robbe-Grillet.
He organizes the cultural exchange program ROCI ("Rauschenberg Overseas Culture Interchange") from 1985 to 1991 in co-operation with the United Nations. The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation in started in 1990, through which the artist supports scientific and sociopolitical projects.
Robert Rauschenberg lives in New York and on Captiva Island, Florida.