Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Robert Rauschenberg (1925–2008)

Robert Rauschenberg (1925–2008) had a great impact on Chinese avant-garde.

05.13.08 - Robert Rauschenberg, the irrepressibly prolific American artist who time and again reshaped art in the twentieth century, died Monday night at age eighty-two, Michael Kimmelman reports for the New York Times. A painter, photographer, printmaker, choreographer, onstage performer, set designer, and, in later years, even a composer, Rauschenberg defied the traditional idea that an artist stick to one medium or style. No American artist, Jasper Johns once said, invented more than Rauschenberg. Johns, John Cage, Merce Cunningham and Rauschenberg, without sharing exactly the same point of view, collectively defined this new era of experimentation in American culture. Apropos of Rauschenberg, Cage once said, "Beauty is now underfoot wherever we take the trouble to look." The process—an improvisatory, counterintuitive way of doing things—was always what mattered most to him. "Screwing things up is a virtue," Rauschenberg said when he was seventy-four. "Being correct is never the point. I have an almost fanatically correct assistant, and by the time she respells my words and corrects my punctuation, I can't read what I wrote. Being right can stop all the momentum of a very interesting idea."
In 1964, he toured Europe and Asia with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, the same year he exhibited at the Whitechapel Gallery in London and the Venice Biennale as the US representative. That sealed his international renown. The Sunday Telegraph in London hailed him as "the most important American artist since Jackson Pollock.'' He walked off with the international grand prize in Venice, the first modern American to win it. Major exhibitions followed every decade after that, including one at the Pompidou Center in Paris in 1981, another at the Guggenheim in 1997 and yet another that landed at the Metropolitan Museum in 2005.
"I usually work in a direction until I know how to do it, then I stop," he said in an interview in the giant studio on the island of Captiva, a slender island off Florida's Gulf coast, in 2000. "At the time that I am bored or understand—I use those words interchangeably—another appetite has formed. A lot of people try to think up ideas. I'm not one. I'd rather accept the irresistible possibilities of what I can't ignore."
He added: "Anything you do will be an abuse of somebody else's aesthetics. I think you're born an artist or not. I couldn't have learned it. And I hope I never do because knowing more only encourages your limitations."

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