Van Gogh •
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Robert Rauschenberg was born in Port Arthur, Texas. He studied art at the Kansas City Institute from 1946 to 1947, at the Académie Julian in Paris in 1947, at Black Mountain College with Josef Albers from 1948 to 1949, and at the New York Art Students League with Vytlacil and Kantor from 1949 to 1950.
Rauschenberg traveled to Italy and North Africa in 1952-53 and designed and executed stage sets and costumes for Merce Cunningham's dance troupe from 1955 until 1964, the year in which he won the grand prize at the Biennale in Venice.
Rauschenberg was a member of a young group of artists who sought new ways of creating images of the life and civilization around them. He may be classified as an symbolic psychological painter of the Abstract Expressionist School. His works break down the previous distinction between painting and sculpture, and he himself calls his construction-collages "combines." The combines depend on the tension between freely handled paint and real objects, the latter almost invariably "found" and usually in states of partial or complete decay. The sources of his inspiration may be the found-object sculpture of Picasso and the works of Marcel Duchamp, but the choice of objects is his own.
The earliest ones have high associative value and may refer to nostalgic recollections of his childhood: the later ones refer to New York urban life. He often uses the objects in such a way that their true identify is difficult to discern, but they spring from universal sensibilities and when attached to canvas they pose questions about the ways we interpret our existence. After working on series of white, then black, then red combines, in 1963 Rauschenberg began to eliminate collage and to reproduce photographs directly on canvas by the silk-screen process.
Thus, with the addition of paint, he created a new two-dimensional combination of images from life and artistic forms. Each of his paintings is an entire statement in itself, a psychological problem that the artist has solved to his own satisfaction.