|« previous | blog | next »|
May 13, 2008
Robert Rauschenberg died on Monday, May 12, 2008, at the age of 82. His unbridled creativity and intellectual curiosity inspired and influenced generations of artists. He was amazingly prolific, and gave so much to the world at large. This is a very sad loss.
Of the many forms of art that he created and experimented with, I especially appreciate his photo-based collages that combine photos with painting and silkscreens and unusual materials. With the juxtaposition of a few likely and a few unlikely photo images, plus delightful colors and messy handwork, he created vibrant works of visual poetry.
There is a great documentary that shows him working and evolving one of his mammoth collages. (I believe he was using Iris dye transfers at the time.) It was great to see him in action, having fun, and making a masterpiece right in front of our eyes as we watched.
He encouraged artists to create their own materials, or to use things they found lying around. Rauschenberg originally culled photos from mass media, but later began to use only photographs that he himself made, which provided even more encouragement for artists to fully create their own unique visions.
I still remember the very first time I encountered his work in person; it stunned me and inspired me to want to make richly layered art that delighted and demanded an intellectual response as well as an emotional response. Of course, that's a terribly difficult challenge, but he made it look fun and easy.
While searching around the web for stories about him, I found this interesting animation that tries to demonstrate the way Rauschenberg might have built up and layered one of his photo collages. Even though the animation was not made in collaboration with Rauschenberg, I believe that all of the images used come from work that he created. It's cool, and playful. And the soundtrack is by his old buddy John Cage. Seems like it strikes just the right note.