ArtsConnectEd/ArtsNet Minnesota
What is Art?


Art and Artists
 Africa, Zaire
 England, Higham Manor,
 Suffolk
 Donald Judd
 New Mexico (Mimbres)
 Claes Oldenburg and
 Coosje van Bruggen
 Thailand,  (Blue Hmong)
 Robert Rauschenberg

Inner Worlds Environment  Identity  Designing Spaces and Places
Robert Rauschenberg

About the Artist

Robert Rauschenberg was named Milton E. Rauschenberg when he was born in 1925, in Port Arthur, Texas. He called himself Robert. Rauschenberg grew up in a working-class family where he was taught fundamentalist Christian values. He was drafted and joined the U.S. Navy when he was 18. He worked as a medical and psychiatric aide during World War II. Rauschenberg saw himself as a "repairman" of bodies and minds, and he became a lifelong social activist. When he was released from the Navy he briefly attended the Kansas City Art Institute and Black Mountain College. In 1949, he moved to New York City to study at the Art Students' League. He was influenced by many of the Abstract Expressionists during this time. Rauschenberg is a painter, printmaker, designer, and experimental artist. He was part of the Beat movement and has been called one of the pioneers of Pop Art.

Rauschenberg tried to create an "unbiased documentation" of what he observed. He wanted people to interpret his work from their own cultural perspectives. He was particularly influenced by Marcel Duchamp. Duchamp is famous for taking a men's urinal, turning it upside down, and entering it in an art exhibition under the title Fountain. By declaring this art, he tried to shock people into thinking about the big aesthetic question, "What is art?" Andy Warhol also influenced Rauschenberg, introducing him to silk-screen printing. Composer John Cage and painter Jasper Johns joined Rauschenberg in encouraging people to question their own paradigms.

Rauschenberg is one of the most influential and important late 20th-century American artists. He is also an advocate for art and artists.

In 1985, Rauschenberg launched the Rauschenberg Overseas Culture Interchange (ROCI), a traveling exhibition dedicated to world peace. The exhibition toured 22 countries and included 250 works-in-progress. Rauschenberg added artworks created specifically for each place as the exhibit traveled from culture to culture.

 

Vocabulary Terms

work-in-progress--An artwork that is not yet finished.

Abstract Expressionism--Art that rejects representation; has few recognizable images; emphasis on line, color, shape, texture, value; expression of internal feelings or emotions of the artist.

Beat artists--The artists who struggled against conformity, mechanization, and materialism of mainstream culture during the 1950s and 1960s.

paradigm--A particular way in which a person views the world, their reality.

silk-screen printing--A color printing process in which ink or paint is forced through a mesh screen onto the paper or canvas.

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Inner Worlds | What Is Art? | Environment | Designing Spaces and Places | Identity
About the Art | About the Artist | Discussion Questions/Activities | Teacher Lessons