Tuesday, January 15, 2013

01/15/13-Robert Rauschenberg

The artist's job is to be a witness to his time in history. 
Robert Rauschenberg

Robert Rauschenberg was a prolific American artist.  Rauschenberg was born Milton Ernest in Port Arthur, Texas on October 22, 1925.  He began his academic study in pharmacology at the University of Texas, Austin.  He was drafted into the Navy and served as a neuropsychiatric technician. In 1947, he attended Kansas City Art Institute and the following year he studied in Paris at The Academie Julian.  In 1948-1952, Rauschenberg attened Black Mountain College near Asheville, North Carolina.  He took classes at the Art League in New York.  Rauschenberg  included collage, prints, assembles, paintings and combines through the following years.

Rauschenberg is known for his "Combines" which incorporated printmaking, papermaking, photography and performance.  The image below is an example of a combine the piece is entitled "Monogram".  

Robert Rauschenberg (American, 1925-2008). Monogram, 1955-59. Freestanding combine. 106.6 x 160.6 x 163.8 cm (42 x 63 1/4 x 64 1/2 in.). Moderna Museet, Stockholm.

As a painter, photographer, printmaker, sculptor, choreographer, onstage performer, set designer, composer, Rauschenberg's many talents and interests shaped and reshaped his art through out his life.  

Robert Rauschenberg made popular a transfer technique using a newspaper and nail polish remover.  This technique was widely copied in high school and college art programs.  Students expressed in their art, current cultural options and attitudes.  Using current images an artist could easily transfer and positions images to a piece of artwork.  In the 1960's and beyond this method was quick, easy and inexpensive to transfer and reproduce already printed images.  The image below is an example of a transfer drawing of the 1960's.

Robert Rauschenberg: Transfer Drawings From the 1960s," at the Jonathan O'Hara Gallery, includes this untitled 1968 work using watercolor and pencil.

Always ready to create art using the tools of the time from 1995-2000, Rauschenberg age 75 created art by scanning his 35 mm photographs, printed the images using water-soluble vegetable dyes, he applied water to the printed image and transfer separately to paper.  The series of transfer images "Anagrams".  Included in this series is this image "Appointment" 2000, below demonstrates this transfer method.

Robert Rauschenberg, prints, original prints, limited edition print

Robert Rauschenberg  
Appointment ,  2000

Robert Rauschenberg was a pioneer in art through experimentation.  Robert Rauschenberg did not allow his age to be a barrier to experiment with the technology.  Rauschenberg built upon his experiences in the arts to create a fearless challenge to keep developing his art through the new technology.    

Homestead (Scenarios), 2003

Homestead (Scenarios), 2003 Pigment transfer and acrylic on polylaminate. 

In summary, Rauschenberg lived his life as a witness to history through the arts.  His artistic legacy will live on in the lives of other artists through his "Robert Rauschenberg Foundation" (RRF).  RRF intends to become the largest visual arts grant-making organizations in the US.  The Art Newspaper-April 2012  Robert Rauschenberg reminds to artists to witness history through their art.  As artists we can express ourselves by using tools and materials in new and innovative ways to show our witness to history in our times.

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