Robert Rauschenberg's Almanac
Born on October 22nd 1925 in the oil-refining city of Port Arthur, Texas neè Milton Ernest Rauschenberg, he later renamed himself Robert after his Grandfather. Rauschenbergs father was one of the many blue coloured workers in the oil refineries whilst his mother worked as a telephone operator. He first studied art during his final years at high school but this was quickly cut short when in 1943 he entered the local University of Texas to study Physics only to be expelled in his first year due to learning difficulties, dyslexia, which was then not recognised and so from there he
entered into military service with the navy for one year working in the hospitals as he “did not want to kill anyone” and here his antiwar feelings only became stronger.
He did not enrol into art education again until 1947 when he joined Kansas’s art school, which took him on a short and unmemorable study period to Paris, because he felt no use there for it’s time had already been and gone. It was moving back to America and onto the Black Mountain College in North Carolina where Rauschenberg began to come into his own. Studying alongside key Abstract Expressionists such as Willem de Kooning, Robert Motherwell and Franz Kline he began to reject the way that the purely emotional movement worked believing that colours didn’t represent emotions but colour.
In 1951 Rauschenberg broke away on his own with his first solo show, although that same year he did exhibit alongside 60 other New York Abstract Expressionist artists including Pollock and Kooning and became part of the ‘New York School’ that was founded. But during the fifties he and his working partner Jasper Johns had the Abstract
Expressionists in outrage as Rauschenberg began to fill the surface of his paintings with objects that included stuffed goats and chickens, coca cola bottles and newspapers he began to bring subject matter back into paintings and his work bridged the gap between abstraction and representation. According to Time critic Robert Hughes this pioneering work helped to “set free the attitudes that (eventually) made pop art seem culturally acceptable”
Rauschenbergs Almanac includes all the beliefs that the artist was firmly about when he reached the sixties. Experimentation; never content with one style Rauschenberg preferred to be forever forging ahead with new mediums and techniques, “once a certain technique or method became easy, I would give it up and try something else,” says Rauschenberg. He was one of the first artists to experiment with blueprint paper in the early fifties, and then he began to incorporate the everyday found objects and daily media images from the press, he wanted to act in the gap between art and life and
found mediums that best did that for him whether it be photographs, (he often would have a camera on him and built up an extensive library of images from his travels through life), magazine clippings, junk, found used objects...