Robert Rauschenberg: Multi-Disciplinary Innovation

Robert Rauschenberg: Multi-Disciplinary Innovation

Tate Modern, London, presents a major exhibition on the work of Robert Rauschenberg, offering the first posthumous retrospective of his work in 20 years. Rauschenberg was the first US artist to win the Golden Lion at Venice Biennale in 1963. Moving between disciplines working in painting, photography, sculpture, performance and print making the artist refused to accept conventional artistic boundaries. His ground-breaking approach was fired by his openness to the world and enthusiasm for collaboration.

The exhibition celebrates each chapter of Rauschenberg’s six-decade career, comprised from major international loans. Amongst these are a selection of his iconic Combines, pieces that hover between painting and sculpture, including Monogram (1955-59), traveling to the UK for the first time in over 50 years, and Bed (1955). The artist’s interest to political activism is also noted, the show featuring Retroactive II (1964), portraying the then recently assassinated John F. Kennedy.

Beginning with a consideration of Rauschenberg’s early experiments at Black Mountain College, renowned in the 1940s as a source of contemporary innovation, the show examines the collaborations with figures such as John Cage, Merce Cunnigham and Susan Weil. This period lead to Erased de Kooning Drawing in 1952, which both tested the limits and celebrated the form of abstract expressionism. Also explored is the founding of Experiments in Art and Technology, an organisation that developed collaborations between artists and engineers, and that progressively blurred the distinctions between the visual arts, performance and science.

Spanning the 1970s through to the 1990s, the event highlights the inspiration Rauschenberg drew from his travel, such as Cardboards (1971-2), a stark comment on the forces of globalisation. The epic project Rauschenberg Overseas Culture Interchange, created between 1984 and 1991 taking in Chile, China, Cuba and Tibet is also featured.

Additionally, performance, dance and printing form central strands. A group of late inkjet painting, combining images using digital technology, demonstrates how the artist continued his innovative practice right into the 21st century.

The show runs from 1 December until 2 April at Tate Modern, London. Find out more at:

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1. Robert Rauschenberg Almanac (1962). Courtesy of Tate Modern.