- Category : Artist - Painter
- Type : GP
- Profile : 3/5 - Martyr / Heretic
- Definition : Split - Small (15,27,32,34,46)
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Laws 3
American artist, painter, sculptor and silkscreen artist, considered one of the most influential figures in avant-garde art since the '50s.
Born Milton Rauschenberg and one-quarter Cherokee Indian, he grew up in a small oil industry town on Texas' Gulf Coast. A loner as a child, he thought he would become a preacher, influenced by his very religious mother. Drafted into the Navy in 1943, he was stationed in San Diego, serving as a neuropsychiatric technician. While in San Diego, a trip to Huntington Gardens Library was his first experience of being exposed to art and made him think that perhaps he too could be a painter.
After he completed his tour of duty, he moved to Los Angeles in 1945, and got a job in the Ballerina Bathing Suit Factory. A friend whom he met there encouraged him to go to the Kansas City Art Institute. Later he went to Paris, where he attended the Academie Julian on the GI Bill. In Paris, he met artist Susan Weil, who led him to Black Mountain College in North Carolina, where much of America's mid-century avant-garde art was instigated. While at Black Mountain, he studied under legendary Bauhaus alumnus Josef Albers who taught his students to scavenge for "objets trouves" ("junk" in English) and incorporate them into their art. Rauschenberg loved this and even took the garbage man's job at Black Mountain so he could scavenge for rubbish.
He married Weil in June 1950, and attended Black Mountain off and on from 1948 to 1952. By 1949, he was spending most of his time in New York, taking classes at the Art Students League. In 1951, he was featured in a group show that included many of Manhattan's Abstract Expressionists. He and Susan and their son, Christopher, then moved back to Black Mountain.
By 1952, he was divorced, brought on by his friendship with a young artist from Virginia, Cy Twombly. The friendship left little time for his family, with at least one published report stating that his sexuality was changing at this time. In 1954, he met Jasper Johns, and for the next five years the two were inseparable.
In 1955, he made a quantum leap with "Bed," the first of about 60 other works of the same type that he made through 1959. During this time, he also designed sets, costumes and lighting for experimental theater.
With the social upheavals of the '60s, he became more politicized. In 1965, Life magazine commissioned him to visualize a modern "Inferno" and he used the assignment to vent his rage at the Vietnam War, racial violence, neo-Nazism, political assassinations and ecological disasters.
He moved from activist to philanthropist, and as his work started getting higher prices, he started giving away large sums. (The record price for one of his paintings, "Rebus," is $7.3 million.) In 1970, he co-founded Change, Inc. a non-profit organization that helps sick and indigent artists. He also took on "Experiments in Art and Technology" as a pet cause. He also founded, in the '80s, the Rauschenberg Overseas Culture Interchange which took him to 12 countries where he became immersed in native cultures, and worked with local artists.
In 1968, he moved to Captiva outside of Ft. Myers, Fla., and his holdings there now consist of about 35 acres.
He died of heart failure in Captiva, Florida on 12 May 2008.