A Look at Robert Rauschenberg
Robert Rauschenberg was an American artist from Texas that explored life in juxtaposition to art. He worked with painting, photography, sculpture, papermaking, printmaking, and performance over the course of his career in an effort to show the world the interconnectedness of art and life. Rauschenberg became widely known as a Neo-Dadaist for his use of modern materials and popular imagery that helped birth the Pop Art movement. He also became widely known for his use of found objects that were interpreted differently than their original meanings when incorporated into his work; Rauschenberg claimed to do this for the surprise it brought him, often redefining his works in ways he had never imagined.
“Combines” are probably what gained Rauschenberg the most notoriety during his artistic career. These pieces of art combined both painting with sculpture to create a piece that explored art in juxtaposition to life. The reason for this Rauschenberg explained was, “Painting relates to both art and life. I try to act in the gap between the two.” So with these “Combines” he began incorporating his found objects from the street, like clothing and urban debris, into his paintings.
Rauschenberg is probably best known for one of his earliest “Combines” which was titled Bed and created in 1955. It consists of a quilt, pillow, and bedding that have been splashed with paint of various colors, most notably, red. This was then spread out and hung like a canvas for viewers to soak up. Many critics believe this piece explores a violent sexual act due to the use of red. I however took something different away from the piece. It speaks to me about how life consists of a waking state and a sleeping state, both clouded by the mind. Influence from various sources can seep into our lives and allows new theory to develop, which then is carried into the subconscious of sleep. This piece spoke more to me about how messy and confusing dreams can be especially when attempting to transfer them into real world thought.