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Robert Rauschenberg

Robert Rauschenberg (b. 1925, Port Arthur, TX – d. 2008, Captiva, FL) was an American artist of capital importance who expanded the horizons of art and played a crucial role in the pivot away from Abstract Expressionism. He is most famous for his “combined” works that incorporated common objects and photographs, as well as for his silkscreen paintings that allowed him to further duplicate and toy with photography in his works.

Born in Port Arthur, Texas, Rauschenberg studied at the Kansas City Art Institute and the Académie Julian in Paris, before attending Black Mountain College in the late 1940s as a pupil of Josef Albers. There he experimented with blueprints and unique, action-related works. As a collaborative artist, it is the friendships and connections he made while at school that were arguably most profound in Rauschenberg’s artistic practice. At Black Mountain College, he met avant-garde creative partners John Cage and Merce Cunningham. While studying at the Art Students League in 1949, he met Cy Twombly, with whom he went traveling to Europe and North Africa in 1952. In 1953, Rauschenberg met Jasper Johns. Johns and Rauschenberg had neighboring studios, and regularly exchanged ideas until 1961.

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Rauschenberg developed a signature style of Abstract Expressionism and “Neo-Dada” in combining objects and painting. He completed his series of black paintings and created sculptures using materials found on the street. He made his first lithograph in 1962 at Universal Limited Art Editions. He also began to engage with silkscreen painting, a process that offered new ways of manipulating photographic imagery. Andy Warhol was the first to experiment with this technique, which had previously been reserved for commercial purposes. Unlike other printing methods, silkscreening allowed Rauschenberg to easily multiply and modify images, that would then be incorporated into his work. In the early 1960s, his silkscreen paintings included repeated images of rooftop water towers, umbrellas and mosquitos in a wide range of sizes, colors and orientations. In total, Rauschenberg created over 745 prints and multiples.

In 1964, Rauschenberg became the first American ever to win the Grand Prize at the Venice Biennale.

In 1994, Mary Ryan Gallery held “Stoned Moon,” exhibiting Rauschenberg’s lithographs and collages based on his invitation by NASA to attend the Apollo 11 launch in 1969.

Rauschenberg’s work has most recently been included in solo and group exhibitions at the Tate Modern (2017), Art Gallery of Ontario (2016), Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art (2016), Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo (2016), Met Breuer, Metropolitan Museum of Art (2016), Whitney Museum of American Art (2016), Cincinnati Art Museum (2016), San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2016), Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow (2016), Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing (2016), Morgan Library and Museum (2015), Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (2015), Walker Art Center (2015), Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2015),  Fondazione Prada (2015), Hamburger Bahnhof (2015), Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza (2015), Cleveland Museum of Art (2015), Museum of Modern Art, New York (2015), National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (2015), Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2015), Museum Brandhorst (2015), Menil Collection (2015), Brooklyn Museum (2014), Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo Internacional (2014), National Portrait Gallery (2014), de Young Memorial Museum (2014), Minneapolis Institute of Arts (2014) and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection (2014).

His work is included in major public collections, among them the Art Institute of Chicago, IL; Centre Georges Pompidou, FR; Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, AR; Guggenheim Bilbao, ES; Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, JP; Irish Museum of Modern Art, IE; Israel Museum, IL; Kunsthaus Zürich, CH; Kunstmuseum Basel, CH; Los Angeles County Museum Of Art, CA; Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, DK; Ludwig Museum HU; Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; Minneapolis Institute of Arts, MN; Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, TX; Moderna Museet, SE; Museo Botero, CO; Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, ES; Museum Brandhorst, DE; Museum für Moderne Kunst, DE; Museum Ludwig, DE; Museum Moderner Kunst, AT; Museum of Contemporary Art, CA; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; Museum of Modern Art, NY; National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, AU; National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, JP; San Francisco Museum Of Modern Art, CA; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NY; Sonje Museum of Contemporary Art, KR; Stedelijk Museum, NL; Tate Modern, UK; Walker Art Center, MN and the Whitney Museum of American Art, NY.
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