Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008) briefly attended the University of Texas and served in the U.S. Navy during World War II prior to studying art. Between the years 1947 and 1952, Rauschenberg attended the Kansas City Art Institute, the Académie Julien in Paris and the Art Students League in New York, and studied with Josef Albers at Black Mountain College in North Carolina, where he formed friendships with John Cage, Merce Cunningham and David Tudor.
In 1951, Rauschenberg was invited to exhibit at Betty Parsons Gallery in New York City, and two years later began creating what were to become his well-known “Combines,” works that incorporate painting and a variety of found objects. The juxtaposition of different mediums (lithography, painting, photography, silk-screening and sculpture) and how they interact are of primary interest to Rauschenberg. Throughout his career, his work has been marked by a sense of experimentation and whimsy. During the 1950s Rauschenberg also began his lifelong involvement with theater and dance, designing sets and costumes for a variety of productions worldwide.
Rauschenberg’s work has been the subject of numerous solo shows and retrospectives around the world, including those organized by the Jewish Museum, New York (1963); the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (1964); the Museum of Modern Art, New York (1966, 1969); the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (1968); the Israel Museum, Jerusalem (1974); the Tate Gallery, London (1981); the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (1981); the Fondation Maeght, Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France (1984); the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (1987); the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1990); and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2002). In 2005, an exhibition of Rauschenberg’s new large-scale paintings from his recent, ongoing series “Scenarios” was mounted at the Miami Art Museum and the University Museum of Art at the University of Louisiana, Lafayette. The Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain in Nice also presented Rauchenberg’s work in 2005. In December 2005, a comprehensive survey of Rauschenberg’s “Combines” opened at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, the show was also exhibited there (May-September 2006) before traveling to the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris (October 2006-January 2007) and the Moderna Museet in Stockholm (February-April 2007).
During a career that has spanned over four decades, Rauschenberg has been the recipient of many honors, including the 32nd Venice Biennale Grand Prize for Painting (1964); the Skowhegan Medal for Graphics (1972); fellowship in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1978); the Grand Prix d'Honneur from the International Exhibition of Graphic Art, Ljubljana (1979); appointment as a foreign member of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Stockholm (1980); appointment as an Officer in the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, Ministry of Culture and Communication, France (1981); the Skowhegan Medal for Painting (1982); a Grammy Award for Best Album Package (1984); the Jerusalem Prize for Arts and Letters from the Philadelphia chapter of the Friends of Bezalel Academy of Jerusalem (1984); the International Center of Photography Art Award (1987); the National Medal of Arts Award (1993); the Lifetime Achievement Award in Contemporary Sculpture from the International Sculpture Center, Washington, D.C. (1996); the American Academy of Arts and Letters Gold Medal for Painting (1999); the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Medal Award (2002); and the Institut Valencia d’Art Modern Julio González International Prize for Lifetime Work (2005).
Rauschenberg’s work can be found in over 70 international museum collections, including the Art Institute of Chicago; the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; the High Museum of Art, Atlanta; the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek, Denmark; the Moderna Museet, Stockholm; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Museum Folkwang, Essen; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; the National Museum of Art, Osaka; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; the Tate Gallery, London; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.
Selected monographs include Rauschenberg: XXXIV Drawings for Dante's Inferno (1965); Robert Rauschenberg: Black Market (1970); Off the Wall: Robert Rauschenberg and the Art World of Our Time (1980); Photos In + Out City Limits: Boston (1981); Photos In + Out City Limits: New York City (1981); Robert Rauschenberg Photographs (1981); Robert Rauschenberg: Shigaraki (1986); Rauschenberg (1987); Robert Rauschenberg (1993); Robert Rauschenberg (1999); Encounters with Rauschenberg (2000); Random Order: Robert Rauschenberg and the Neo-Avant-Garde (2003); Robert Rauschenberg: breaking boundaries (2003); and Rauschenberg: Art and Life (1990, updated 2004).