Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008)
‘painting relates to both art and life. Neither can be made…. I try to act in that gap between the two.’ Rauschenberg, 1959.
I visited this exhibition at Tate Modern on an OCA Study Day on 21st January and again on 14 March 2017. It was a retrospective of his work and follows a loose chronology, with eleven rooms each containing a shift in his technique or mode of working.
The exhibition was vast and had an amazing variety of work on show which at times was overwhelming (hence the second visit). On the study visit the tutor asked us to think about what made Rauschenberg a ‘radical’ – his technique, changes of style, attention to American culture, or collaboration? At the end of visiting the exhibition I don’t think it was any one of these which made him a ‘radical’ rather a willingness to do all four and many others, continually changing and adapting. Many artist develop a style or made of working which they become ‘known’ for and end up working in that manner for the remainder of their careers. Rauschenberg shifting styles, collaborated with many other others in different disciplines and continually challenged the accepted view of what made a work of ‘art’. Whilst artist such as Duchamp have done this in the past with his Readymades Rauschenberg took this to a new level, always challenging conventional views.
As there were so many works I could select to write about I have picked four works which particularly appealed to me either because of the finished piece or the idea behind the finished work and wrote about these in my sketchbook.