debbie millman

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Robert Rauschenberg, 1925-2008

Artwork by Robert Rauschenberg

Artwork by Robert Rauschenberg

From the New York Times obituary by Michael Kimmelman: Robert Rauschenberg, the irrepressibly prolific American artist who time and again reshaped art in the 20th century, died on Monday night at his home on Captiva Island, Fla. He was 82. A painter, photographer, printmaker, choreographer, onstage performer, set designer and, in later years, even a composer, Mr. Rauschenberg defied the traditional idea that an artist stick to one medium or style. He pushed, prodded and sometimes reconceived all the mediums in which he worked.

Building on the legacies of Marcel Duchamp, Kurt Schwitters, Joseph Cornell and others, he helped obscure the lines between painting and sculpture, painting and photography, photography and printmaking, sculpture and photography, sculpture and dance, sculpture and technology, technology and performance art — not to mention between art and life.

Mr. Rauschenberg was also instrumental in pushing American art onward from Abstract Expressionism, the dominant movement when he emerged, during the early 1950s. He became a transformative link between artists like Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning and those who came next, artists identified with Pop, Conceptualism, Happenings, Process Art and other new kinds of art in which he played a signal role.

No American artist, Jasper Johns once said, invented more than Mr. Rauschenberg.


Anonymous Thomas Gaudynski said...

I've been troubled over Kimmelman's reference to Johns' observation about Rauschenberg, now quoted or paraphrased by many well meaning people. So I went looking for the source.

Leo Steinberg, in his article "Reflections on the State of Criticism," (from Artforum, March 1972, pp. 37-49) wrote, "I once heard Jasper Johns say that Rauschenberg was the man who in this century invented the most since Picasso."

Nothing about America. And nothing about the artist Johns compared Rauschenberg to––Picasso (Spanish, living in France).

And as I think about this more, it refers (in 1972) to the first 25 years of Rauschenberg’s artistic output. He went on continuing to create art for another 35 years--whether considered as inventive or not. Perhaps even comparable to Picasso's later output?

I agree, though, he was the giant in American art during the the 20th century.

Best regards,

Thomas Gaudynski

5/17/2008 04:53:00 PM  

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Debbie Millman has worked in the design business for over 25 years. She is President of the design division at Sterling Brands. She has been there for nearly 15 years and in that time she has worked on the redesign of global brands for Pepsi, Procter & Gamble, Campbell’s, Colgate, Nestle and Hasbro. Prior to Sterling, she was a Senior Vice President at Interbrand and a Marketing Director at Frankfurt Balkind. Debbie is President of the AIGA, the largest professional association for design. She is a contributing editor at Print Magazine, a design writer at and Brand New and Chair of the Masters in Branding Program at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. In 2005, she began hosting the first weekly radio talk show about design on the Internet. The show is titled “Design Matters with Debbie Millman” and it is now featured on In addition to “Look Both Ways: Illustrated Essays on the Intersection of Life and Design,” (HOW Books, 2009, she is the author of "How To Think Like A Great Graphic Designer" (Allworth Press, 2007) and “The Essential Principles of Graphic Design” (Rotovision, 2008).

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