Exhibition

Robert Rauschenberg

Erasing the Rules

November 18, 2017–March 25, 2018

Floor 4

From the 1940s until his passing in 2008, Rauschenberg worked with everything from photography to items scavenged from New York City streets to vats of bubbling mud. More than 150 of Rauschenberg’s artworks, including prints, sculptures, paintings, and Combines (works that incorporate painting and sculpture), will be on view in the retrospective Robert Rauschenberg: Erasing the Rules, celebrating the artist’s continual experimentation with materials and collaborative working processes. The exhibition demonstrates how, with razor-sharp humor and intelligence, Rauschenberg broke down boundaries between disciplines, anticipated many of the defining cultural and social issues of our time, and redefined what art could be for the generations of artists who followed.


Robert Rauschenberg: Erasing the Rules is organized by Tate Modern, London, and The Museum of Modern Art, New York, in association with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

The San Francisco presentation is dedicated to the memory of Phyllis Wattis, whose vision and support provided the groundwork for the exhibition.

Global Tour Sponsor

Bank of America

Major support is provided by Carol and Lyman Casey, Doris Fisher, The Mimi and Peter Haas Fund, SFMOMA Collectors’ Forum, the Paul L. Wattis Foundation, the Phyllis C. Wattis Fund for Traveling Exhibitions, and Carlie Wilmans.

Generous support is provided by the Gerson Bakar Foundation, Aurelia and Cadmus Balkanski, Penny S. and James G. Coulter, Roberta and Steve Denning, Dana and Bob Emery, James Hormel and Michael Nguyen, the Mary Jo and Dick Kovacevich Family, Christine and Pierre Lamond, Deborah and Kenneth Novack, the Bernard and Barbro Osher Exhibition Fund, the Prospect Creek Foundation, Chara Schreyer, Helen and Charles Schwab, Thomas W. Weisel and Janet Barnes, and Bobbie and Mike Wilsey.

This exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.


Entry to this exhibition is included with general admission.

Header image: Robert Rauschenberg, Hiccups, 1978 (detail); collection SFMOMA, gift of the artist in honor of Phyllis C. Wattis; © Robert Rauschenberg Foundation

Exhibition Preview

  • Artwork image, Robert Rauschenberg, Untitled (Double Rauschenberg)

    Robert Rauschenberg, Untitled (Double Rauschenberg), ca. 1950; Cy Twombly Foundation; © Robert Rauschenberg Foundation

  • Traces of ink and crayon on paper, with mat and hand-lettered label in ink, in gold-leafed frame

    Robert Rauschenberg, Erased de Kooning Drawing, 1953; collection SFMOMA, purchase through a gift of Phyllis C. Wattis; © Robert Rauschenberg Foundation

  • A brightly colored assemblage artwork, Rauschenberg Collection

    Robert Rauschenberg, Collection, 1954/1955; collection SFMOMA, gift Harry W. and Mary Margaret Anderson; © Robert Rauschenberg Foundation

  • A colorfully painted Angora goat head ina rubber tire atop a wood platform

    Robert Rauschenberg, Monogram, 1955–59; Moderna Museet, Stockholm, purchase 1965 with contribution from The Friends of Moderna Museet; © Robert Rauschenberg Foundation

  • A painted quilted mounted on a vertical support

    Robert Rauschenberg, Bed, 1955; the Museum of Modern Art, New York, gift of Leo Castelli in honor of Alfred H. Barr, Jr.; © Robert Rauschenberg Foundation

  • Video still of a dancer with a billowing white costume on a stage

    Peter Moore, Photo of Rauschenberg performing his piece Pelican (1963), First New York Theater Rally, 1965; © Barbara Moore / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY; courtesy Paula Cooper Gallery, New York

  • Colorful silkscreen with a seated nude figure facing a mirror at the center

    Robert Rauschenberg, Persimmon, 1964; private collection; © Robert Rauschenberg Foundation

  • A vat of bubbling mud

    Robert Rauschenberg, Mud Muse, 1968–71; Moderna Museet, Stockholm, gift of the New York Collection; © Robert Rauschenberg Foundation

  • Hanging red, yellow and sheer fabric

    Robert Rauschenberg, Mirage (Jammer), 1975; Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, New York; © Robert Rauschenberg Foundation

  • Artwork image, Robert Rauschenberg, Port of Entry

    Robert Rauschenberg, Port of Entry [Anagram (A Pun)], 1998; collection SFMOMA, purchase through a gift of Phyllis C. Wattis; © Robert Rauschenberg Foundation


Rauschenberg Research Project

The Rauschenberg Research Project provides free worldwide access to a wealth of scholarly research and documentation related to artworks by Robert Rauschenberg in SFMOMA’s collection.

Robert Rauschenberg Erases the Rules

From the 1940s until his passing in 2008, Rauschenberg worked with everything from photography to items scavenged from New York City streets to vats of bubbling mud. These stories celebrate the artist’s razor-sharp humor and intelligence and his continual experimentation with materials and collaborative working processes.

Related Publication

Robert Rauschenberg is the first comprehensive catalogue of the artist’s career in 20 years, an important contribution to American cultural and intellectual history, and a necessary volume for anyone interested in the art of the present day.