Tuesday, May 13, 2008
RIP Robert Rauschenberg
We lost a good one yesterday. Robert Rauschenberg died at the age of 82. One of my lecturers at university dismissed him as nothing more than a Dada Clown, which is a bit harsh. I used to spend a lot of time at Michaelis going through the heaps of books that they had in the library when I was trying to come up with ideas to use in the various projects that I was set during my time there and there was one particular book on Rauschenberg that I would come back to time and time again for a healthy helping of inspiration.
I always liked his work because it had a narrative that would jump out at you before you've had the chance to read about the hows and whys. I am very into work that lets you come up your own viewer agenda rather than reading some twat pontificate on about how his or her works correlates with Foucault (and his fucking pendulum) or Sontag. To me, Rauschenberg's use of found imagery and materials is the very essence of street art, and he was definitely someone who inadvertently had as much of an influence on the work we see in the Lowbrow/Juxtapoz scene today as Jackson Pollock or Andy Warhol. Rauschenberg lived, breathed, ate and shit art - even when paralyzed by a stroke he continued to create and mentor young artists and communities through the Rauschenberg Overseas Culture Interchange, which he saw as a way of bringing cultures together.
Rauschenberg was never afraid of innovation and when he started adding sound to his Combines - which is what he called his reliefs and sculptures - he worked closely with Billy Kulver to form E.A.T. (Experiments in Art and Technology) he revolutionized the way artists hung and showed their work and for that alone he should be applauded. He was also the first American artist to exhibit in China but his most significant contribution to the world of art was his belief that art could chance society and mend its ills. He travelled the world interacting with disparate people and leaving his undeniable mark at every place that his feet touched the ground and for that alone he is one of my heroes.
Godspeed Robert and rest in peace, you'll be sorely missed.