Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Father of the Combine

Robert Rauschenberg 1925-2008
This article in the New York Times this morning brought tears to my eyes. Artists like myself owe a huge debt to Rauschenberg. Despite the fact that his Combines, the work he was probably the most famous for came out 50 years ago now, folks still have a difficult time accepting mixed media or found object work as relevant, important, or even art. Granted I should qualify that by saying I live in Sacramento, a town that is still titillated by Ab Ex as though it just sprung fresh from the canvas last year.

Anyhoo, I found this passage particularly inspiring although the whole article is great really:

Cage meant that people had come to see, through Mr. Rauschenberg’s efforts, not just that anything, including junk on the street, could be the stuff of art (this wasn’t itself new), but that it could be the stuff of an art aspiring to be beautiful — that there was a potential poetics even in consumer glut, which Mr. Rauschenberg celebrated. “I really feel sorry for people who think things like soap dishes or mirrors or Coke bottles are ugly,” he once said, “because they’re surrounded by things like that all day long, and it must make them miserable.”

So now I encourage you in honor of the Father of the Combine... take extra care to appreciate your surroundings today and pay extra close attention to that soap dish. The world around us is more beautiful than one might think.


girlplusdog said...

R.R. was the most proflic artist and succeeded Picasso as the most prolific, I am guessing until Picasso could no longer draw on napkins.


Dani said...

I just read the LA Times piece on him and loved this quote:

"I often had a house rule," Rauschenberg explained about his working method in the shabby downtown Manhattan neighborhood where he lived. "If I walked completely around the block and didn't find enough [trash] to work with, I could take one other block and walk around it in any direction -- but that was it. The works [I made] had to be at least as interesting as anything going on outside the window."

Liv Moe said...

rules like that are funny. it's interesting how all artists have them and they spring up with this amazing validity and importance.

i used to never question my rules at the outset of a project but i've been trying to get better about evaluating my them to determine which are essential and which can be broken.