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PIONEERING AMERICAN ARTIST ROBERT RAUSCHENBERG DEAD AT 82

Posted by Billyjam, May 13, 2008 09:11am | Post a Comment

 "I work in the gap between art  
    and life."
             -Robert Rauschenberg

As reported in several online outlets this morning, including on the NY Times' website, American artist Robert Rauschenberg, who helped shape the face of 20th century art, died last night (May 12) at age 82. 

Always prolific and diverse, the Texas born artist worked in numerous mediums throughout his career. He was a  painter, sculptor,  photographer, choreographer, printmaker, stage performer, set designer, and even a composer.

"I think a painting is more like the real world if it's made out of the real world,"  Rauschenberg once said.  He was hailed by London's. Sunday Telegraph early in his career as “The most important American artist since Jackson Pollock."

Perhaps most importantly, Rauschenberg was instrumental in guiding the direction of American art out of Abstract Expressionism, the prevailing art movement in the beginning of the 1950's, when he first emerged.  As accurately noted by the New York Times, he built on "the legacies of Marcel Duchamp, Kurt Schwitters, Joseph Cornell and others, he thereby helped to obscure the lines between painting and sculpture, painting and photography, photography and printmaking, sculpture and photography, sculpture and dance, sculpture and technology, technology and performance art — not to mention between art and life."

After he became a successful artist, he generously shared his newly acquired wealth throughout the remainder of his life, donating literally millions of dollars to charities for women, children, medical research, as well as donating money to struggling artists and to Democratic politicians.

Meanwhile, Rauschenberg's idea of what it is to be an artist and his approach to creating art was always most refreshing.  “I usually work in a direction until I know how to do it, then I stop,” he said in one interview eight years ago. " A lot of people try to think up ideas. I’m not one. I’d rather accept the irresistible possibilities of what I can’t ignore.” On the subject of being an artist he offered:  "I think you’re born an artist or not. I couldn’t have learned it. And I hope I never do because knowing more only encourages your limitations."
                                                 
"You have to have the time to feel sorry for  
  yourself in order to be a good abstract
  expressionist."
                        -Robert Rauschenberg