Run don’t walk to Tate Modern’s retrospective of the late Robert Rauschenberg opening Thursday, which is not only visually sublime, but also explains the motivations behind the late American artist’s incredibly diverse career. He is one of my all-time favourite artists. Somehow he manages to make canvases packed with everyday objects like a bucket, an electric fan, safety pins or a necktie beautiful.
I want my paintings to look like what’s going on outside my window rather than what’s going on inside my studio.
A picture is more like the real world when it’s made out of the real world.
Where I find other artists often get too conceptual for me, Rauschenberg never fails on the simple aesthetics.
What’s more Rauschenberg was constantly challenging himself, collaborating with other artists, experimenting with other media, trying new things and never letting success get to his head. When he won the Venice Biennale in 1964 – the first American to do so – he immediately called his assistant in Manhattan and asked him to destroy any silkscreens left in his studio so that Rauschenberg wouldn’t be tempted to continue on that theme.
From 1984-1990 Rauschenberg decided to start an artistic dialogue with repressive regimes, visiting countries like China, Venezuela, Tibet, Cuba, East Germany and several others. He donated works to museums in these host countries, culminating with a final show at the National Gallery in Washington DC. Seen by over two million people across the world, Rauschenberg’s project is a testament to how art can communicate across any political or cultural divide. If I could choose an artist that I’d like to have dinner with, Rauschenberg would be the one.