Thursday, May 22

A Tribute to Robert Rauschenberg 1925-2008

Ever since I saw a Rauschenberg hanging in the hallway of my high school I have idolized him as an artist and felt a strange connection to his work.

Maybe I feel like we have something in common due to the fact we both grew up in the small oil refining town of Port Arthur, TX. After an amazing art career, Rauschenberg passed last week on Monday, May 12th in his home in Florida.

Biography on WikipediaNew York Times Obituary

Here are some of Rauschenberg's Most Famous Works:

This piece, titled “Signs” is one of his most powerful and moving. It certainly captures the turmoil, horror and excitement of that amazing decade, the sixties. Whether it is the image of J.F.K., Bobby, Martin Luther King, Neil Armstrong or Janis Joplin, the strength of the color, the brilliant placement of the images and simply the entire overall effect of the work, make it extremely powerful and compelling!According to the Catalogue of his prints from 1948 –1970, this hand-painted Silkscreen was designed, but not used, as a magazine cover. Rauschenberg has commented on the piece:“It was conceived to remind us of the love, terror and violence of the last ten years. The danger lies in forgetting"

Robert Rauschenberg in this 1964 painting, Retroactive, appropriated photographs from newspapers to render this collage, a depiction and recontextualization of iconic imagery from the 1960s in line with the Pop Art movement.

Canyon, 1959, Combine painting: oil, pencil, paper, metal, photograph, fabric, wood on canvas, plus buttons, mirror, stuffed eagle, cardboard box, pillow, paint tube, Collection Ileana and Michael Sonnabend, New York, on extended loan to The Baltimore Museum of Art

Monogram, 1955-1959
The title of this exhibition is rather simple but to the point I think. Just as the title suggests, the entire exhibition is comprised of Rauschenberg musings- the use of mixed materials- earlier in his career; but the main component being the stuff that we pack and move our possessions within.

Robert Rauschenberg, Pilgrim,1950,mixed mediums with wooden chair, ca. 79 x 54 x 19 in.Hamburger Kunsthalle

Many famous people grew up in Port Arthur, Janis Joplin for example. As the years go by I feel more and more connected to these great artists. For example: Rauschenberg and I both went to the University of Texas at Austin and studied in Paris. Janis Joplin and I both spent time in the Mississippi Delta. Who knows why great artists become great. A product of environment? I think so!

I have the fondest memories of searching for the mysterious Janis tag on the wall in the theater of the Woodrow Wilson Auditorium. We climbed all the way up the catwalk and still never found it. 

Great artists come and go, but what they leave behind will be remembered forever. Do you have a favorite artist that you feel a strong connection to? Leave me a comment about it!

1 comment:

Mike Ettner said...


Just came across your tribute to Robert Rauschenberg, which you illustrate, in the lead off position, with his silkscreen "Signs." I too am in awe of the power of that work and, as you write, "the brillian placement of the images" in it.

I recently wrote a short essay on "Signs" with an emphasis on the compositional strategies Rauschenberg used so successfully. The essay is posted at

All the best,