Robert (Milton Ernst) Rauschenberg, an American painter was born on October 22, 1925, in Port Arthur, Texas. He studied at the Kansas City Art Institute (1946–7), the Académie Julien, Paris (1947), and with Josef Albers and John Cage at Black Mountain College, North Carolina (1948–50).
Traveling widely, he was based in New York City from 1950, where he and Jasper Johns paved the way for pop art of the 1960s. He worked with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, New York, as costume and stage designer (1955–64).
An imaginative and eclectic artist, he used a mix of sculpture and paint in works he called ‘combines’, as seen in The Bed (1955). From the late 1950s he incorporated sound and motors in his work, such as Broadcast (1959), and silk-screen transfers, as in Flush (1964).
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, he experimented with collage and new ways to transfer photographs. In 1997 the Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York City, staged a major exhibition of his works, showcasing the breadth and beauty of his work and its influence over the second half of the century. he Guggenheim Museum has exhibited the largest retrospective of Rauschenberg’s work to date (1997), which traveled to the Menil Collection, Contemporary Arts Museum, and Museum of Fine Arts, all in Houston (1998); and then traveled to Europe (1998–99) with exhibitions at Museum Ludwig, Cologne (1998); and Guggenheim Museum Bilbao (1998–99). Also in 1998, the Vatican commissioned (and later refused) a work by Rauschenberg based on the Apocalypse for Renzo Piano’s pilgrimage church in Foggia, Italy. The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, hosted a survey of the artist’s Combines (1999), and the Guggenheim Foundation organized the memorial exhibition Robert Rauschenberg: Gluts for the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice (2009), which traveled to the Museum Tinguely, Basel (2009–10); Guggenheim Museum Bilbao (2010); and Villa e Collezione Panza, Varese, Italy (2010–11). Rauschenberg’s last stage set was for Cunningham’s Xover (crossover) (2007), based on his own painting Plank (2003).