Robert RauschenbergAmerican (Port Arthur, Texas, 1925 - 2008, Captiva, Florida)
Along with Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg broke with the abstract style that dominated mid-century American painting and helped establish the ongoing concerns of contemporary art.
Rauschenberg studied art from 1948 to 1953 at North Carolina's Black Mountain College, a center for progressive art education. In the mid-1950s, he became known for his "combines", hybrid works in between painting and sculpture. By incorporating real, everyday objects instead of depicting them, the combines reintroduced lived experience as the subject of art. Many of the components seem to reference Rauschenberg's own biography, but their familiarity generalizes and obscures their meaning.
During the 1960s Rauschenberg became increasingly interested in performance, and he collaborated with the composer John Cage, the choreographer Merce Cunningham, and the Judson Dance Theater. Much of Rauschenberg's later work used silkscreening, a practice that enabled him to explore his interests in repetition and process. His prints are frequently based on collaged fragments of personal and collective symbols.