Robert Rauschenberg

We have talked about art from nearly every angle.  At various points in the semester we have decided that art must be appropriately arranged and colored, symbolic, historic, personal, deep, dark and risky.   But there is one aspect of art that we have not touched on.

Art is a form of play.

Remember the complete absorption of building a sand castle? Legos?  Train tracks?  Damming a creek?   I used to make perfume from rose petals and forts from couch cushions.

Too soon we give up playing.  But you don’t have to, and to prove it, I’ve picked Bob Rauschenberg as our last artist.  Not many people are as inventive as him, but we can all create;  enjoying the process more than the product.  Neither my perfume nor my forts were any good, but it was a blast to make them, and that is enough.

Here are some questions to think about as you watch the video:

  • Was his background an unlikely one for a modern artist?
  • How old was he before he realized that being an artist was even a profession?
  • How was his attitude different from that of the Abstract Expressionists?
  • What learning disability did he suffer from?
  • What famous artist did he live with?
  • Do you agree with the art critics who said Monogram (the goat) was about homosexuality?  Or was Rauschenberg just having fun?
  • Do you agree with the statement that his collages were history paintings; like seeing the world spin by in the blink of an eye?
  • What do you think of his Performance Art?
  • He liked collaborating with people.  After all the moody artists we’ve seen, do you find this surprising?
  • He wanted to create a new way of seeing and thinking.  Does he succeed?
  • He has been criticized for doing too much, not editing his work enough.  Do you agree?
  • Does his statement that he’s looking for the maximum lack of control surprise you?
  • What does he mean when he says he leaves all the faucets going?
  • What does he mean when he says that a work is approachable but out of reach?
  • What does the narrator mean when he says Rauschenberg introduces us to ourselves?
  • What does Rauschenberg mean when he says he works in the gap between art and life?
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