(Port Arthur, Texas, 1925 - 2008, Captiva Island, Florida)
Robert Rauschenberg gained notoriety in the 1950s and 1960s for his combines, innovative amalgamations of Abstract Expressionist-style paintings and found object sculpture. The artist studied at the Kansas City Art Institute, the Académie Julien in Paris and at Black Mountain College in rural North Carolina with Josef Albers and John Cage. Rauschenberg settled in New York City in 1950, where he collaborated on set and costume design with choreographers and composers including Merce Cunningham, Trisha Brown and John Cage. Throughout the 1950s, Rauschenberg collaged found magazine and newspaper photographs onto his paintings; his first exhibition at Leo Castelli Gallery, in 1958, featured several of these works. In the early 1960s, the artist began to screenprint photographic images directly onto his canvases, a technique inspired by Andy Warhol. Rauschenberg explored the use of new materials, in the late 1960s and 1970s, printing on silk, acrylic, aluminum, cotton and cheesecloth. He established a home and studio in Captiva Island, Florida, in 1970, where he lived and worked until his death. In the 1980s and 1990s Rauschenberg eschewed the use of found photography, working instead with his own photographic images. He founded the Rauschenberg Overseas Culture Interchange in 1984 to support the exchange of cross cultural ideas through artwork.
Rauschenberg received a Gold Medal for Painting from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1999 and a National Medal of Arts from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1993. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum organized a major retrospective of the artist’s work in 1997. His work is found in collections worldwide, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.