Prominent artist Rauschenberg dies

Robert Rauschenberg, an American artist known for his "found object"-based art, has died at the age of 82. He was the first American artist to win the Grand Prize at the Venice Biennale.


Robert Rauschenberg, who died overnight Tuesday at his home in Florida, aged 82, was a towering and prolific 20th century artist who developed a unique and compelling style.

He was perhaps best known for his "Combines," a genre he developed in the 1950s which integrated aspects of painting and sculpture and often included incongruous "found" objects.

One of his best-known combines, the 1959 work he called "Monogram," incorporated a stuffed angora goat, a tire, a police barrier, the heel of a shoe, a tennis ball and paint.

Five years after "Monogram," Rauschenberg became the first American artist to win the Grand Prize at the Venice Biennale, one of the art world's highest honors.

Born Milton Rauschenberg in Texas on October 22, 1925, Rauschenberg initially wanted to be a minister or pharmacist.

He studied pharmacology at the University of Texas at Austin before serving as a neuropsychiatric technician in the US Navy.

It was during his military service that Rauschenberg discovered a talent for drawing.

After leaving the navy in 1948, he studied art at the private studio school Academie Julian in Paris.

Rauschenberg moved to North Carolina less than a year later to continue his studies at Black Mountain College under masters including the Bauhaus movement's Josef Albers.

After North Carolina, Rauschenberg, like many other Black Mountain alumni, moved to New York, where he took classes at the Art Students League between 1949-1951.

With Jasper Johns, whom he met in 1953, Rauschenberg is considered one of the most influential artists to react against Abstract Expressionism, a US painting style characterized by loose brushwork and lack of figuration.

A Rauschenberg retrospective organized by the Washington-based National Collection of Fine Arts toured the United States in 1976-78.

In 1997, the influential Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, exhibited the largest retrospective of Rauschenberg’s work to date, which traveled to Europe in 1998.

Asked in an interview with France's Le Monde newspaper in 2005 if he considered himself a visionary, Rauschenberg replied: "No, but I am very proud of my eyes."

"Sometimes they work too well... So I have got used to the idea that my work  is recognized 15 years later. Especially by professionals."

Rauschenberg worked in New York City and on Captiva Island, Florida where he died.

Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning