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Robert Rauschenberg Obituary

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Robert Rauschenberg Pop Art pioneer, whose wide-ranging work time and again reshaped art in the 20th century, sadly died on 12th May 2008, aged 82, at his home in Captiva Island, Florida. artrepublic reflects on the life of this innovative artist.

He embraced a huge range of artistic expression from painting and collage to photography, printmaking, stage design and performance. His works are held in nearly every major public and private collection of modern art in Europe and America, in particular the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Rauschenberg's innovative technique included being the first artist to incorporate silk-screen printing on canvas. Transferring images from newsprint and silks-screening photographs from many sources permitted him to incorporate just about anything into his paintings and drawings.

Rauschenberg extended well-established conventions of collage and the found object, to produce what he called "combines" - hybrids of painting and sculpture. His studio was a junk heap, containing items as varied as cola bottles, clocks, radios and fragments of clothing which would eventually be integrated into his work. One of his most famous works, 'Monogram' (1955-1959) featured a stuffed goat with a rubber tyre surrounding his middle and splashed with paint in a style reminiscent of Action painting. All this was inspired by an assignment set by his tutor Joseph Albers during his time at and Black Mountain College to find objects that could be deemed aesthetically interesting.

Milton Rauschenberg was born in 1925 in Port Arthur, Texas, part German and part Cherokee Indian. He became interested in art after a chance visit to a gallery while serving in the US Navy as a mental hospital nurse in the final years of World War Two. He only changed his name to Robert later in life as he felt is sounded more like the name of an artist.

Discharged in 1945, Rauschenberg studied art at a number of institutions including the Kansas City Art Institute, the Academie Julian in Paris, the Art Students League in New York and Black Mountain College in North Carolina. During this time He married fellow artist Susan Weil and had his only child, Christopher who is now 56.

In late 1953, he met fellow Pop artist Jasper Johns. The two artists had neighbouring studios, regularly exchanging ideas and discussing their work, until 1961.

In 1970, Rauschenberg established a permanent residence and studio in Captiva, Florida, where he lived until his recent death.

From 1984 through 1991, he ran the Rauschenberg Overseas Cultural Interchange (ROCI). Through this Rauschenberg and his assistants travelled the world and worked collaboratively with artists and craftsmen of many nationalities.

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