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Robert Rauschenberg’s Art with a Deep Unusual Meaning and a Secret Message

22.10.2021
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Robert Rauschenberg’s Art

Milton Ernest Robert Rauschenberg (October 22, 1925–May 12, 2008) was an American painter and graphic artist whose early paintings presaged the Pop Art trend. Why are Robert Rauschenberg’s white paintings known for? What is known about his biography and career?We describe it below.

The Creator’s Early Childhood

Robert Rauschenberg was born in the small oil refinery town of Port Arthur, Texas, to Milton Ernest Rauschenberg. His father, Ernest, was a strict and tough individual and at Gulf State Utilities. And his mother, Dora, was a devout Christian and thrifty woman.

Rauschenberg drew and copied images from comic books from childhood, but his talent was appreciated only by his younger sister Janet. Until he was 13, he planned to become a priest. However, Rauschenberg learned that his church called dancing a sin and he himself loved to dance.

Education and Development

As his parents wanted, Rauschenberg entered the University of Texas at Austin to study pharmacology, but was expelled from his freshman year after he refused to dissect a frog. In 1943, he received a draft letter.

There he was appointed a medical technician in the Naval Hospital Corps and sent to a hospital to care for survivors of the fighting in San Diego. During his first leave, he first saw oil paintings at the Huntington Art Gallery in California. After the war ended, Rauschenberg traveled, eventually using the G.I. Bill program to pay for art classes in Kansas City. The following year Robert went to Paris to study at the Académie Julian.

Further Artistic Path

Robert's Artistic Path

The artist’s ambition earned him a prestigious solo exhibition at the Betty Parsons Gallery in New York, where he presented a series of white paintings with scratched numbers and allegorical symbols (1953).

The artist Jack Tworkow also inspired him to explore black. His Black Mountains Paintings (1951), unlike the white series, were textured with thick paint and included newspaper clippings. All ideas had a great impact on the young artist.

Personal Life

Rauschenberg  Personal Life

In Paris, Rauschenberg met an American student, Susan Vail, and they became inseparable friends.

He saved enough money and followed her to Black Mountain College in North Carolina. Rauschenberg and Weil stayed at Black Mountain during the 1948–1949 school year and then moved to New York City. They arrived when the Abstract Expressionist movement was just coming to maturity. In June 1950 Rauschenberg and Weill were married, and in August 1951 they had a baby son, Christopher.

White Painting by Rauschenberg

White Painting by Rauschenberg

His series of paintings consists of several canvases that are entirely painted white. Any details can only be seen by changing light and with occasional shadow effects. The artist first painted these unusually conceived works in 1951. And from the beginning, there were only six copies: one, two, three, four, five, and seven-panel images.

The Price of Paintings

Price of Paintings by Robert Rauschenberg

Paintings by Robert Rauschenberg sometimes go up for auction with an estimate of about $50 million. TheRobert’s white painting’s price is unknown, but the artist’s current auction record is $18.6 million. But we are confident that the value of a white painting by Robert Rauschenberg can be appreciated.

The Subsequent Fate of the Artwork

The Subsequent Fate of the Artwork Rauschenberg

Rauschenberg reworked several of the original canvases into other works of art. And the paintings that were to have smooth surfaces were remade for the White Paintings (1951) exhibition at the Castelli Gallery, New York, in 1968. All the edits were handled by studio assistant Bryce Marden. An interesting fact is that all of the paintings were redone except for one five-panel painting.

Several of the Robert Rauschenberg white paintings were hung as sets for John Cage’s #1 theater play at Black Mountain College in 1951. Cage, as a philosopher and composer, found inspiration in these works for his signature composition 4’33” (1952).

Successes Mature Views

Over time, Rauschenberg combined his interest in travel with his belief that art could change society by founding the Rauschenberg Foreign Cultural Exchange (R.O.C.I.). He traveled primarily to developing countries and states, in defiance of Cold War politics, learning the traditions of craft from the artists and artisans of the host country.

Each of the trips resulted in a major exhibition of Rauschenberg sculptures and artworks. The trip culminated in an exhibition at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.

Facts about Robert Rauschenberg and His Artworks

  • Rauschenberg took an unconventional view, and his paintings, such as white painting (three panels) and black painting, described the inner world of the creator and reflected his relationship with the outside world. Each brushstroke was meaningful and thoughtful.
  • Rauschenberg brought kitsch and the visual arts together. He also used traditional elements and unusual things in his work. In this way, the author added a twist to standard wall paintings.
  • Robert Rauschenberg believed that in painting there is a share of art and reality. Neither could be created for nothing. With this conviction in mind, he created works of art that are in constant interaction with the viewers and the world around them, as well as with the history of art.
  • The artist always left it to the viewers to interpret the idea of the work for themselves. Rauschenberg placed and combined various found images and objects in his works in a random way. Therefore, there were no preconceived arrangements or meanings in them.

Robert Rauschenberg Foundation

Today this foundation encourages new, fresh ways of thinking and acting, extending the artist’s legacy around the world. The Fund also supports studies, institutes, and artists who embrace the same shared, inclusive and multidisciplinary approach that Rauschenberg demonstrated in his creative journey.

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