Rauschenberg at Tate Modern

10 Jan

Robert Rauschenberg arrived on the American art scene in the 1950s as something of a young pretender, overthrowing established parameters, stretching and breaking boundaries with an insatiable thirst for innovation and the discovery of new media to express his ideas. With abstract expressionism in full flood and painting on the throne, Rauschenberg challenged what art could be and what it could be made with. His tools were unbounded by convention, painting, sculpture, performance, electronics, digital printing and of course the use of photography both his own and acquired imagery. The visual desire never seemed to desert; a career that bridged the latter half of the 20th century and into the new millennium continued to innovate, absorbing each new technology as it came his way. This the first comprehensive retrospective since his death in 2008 encompasses a 60 year voyage of exploration; from the radical 1950s Combines work to late work where photography became key to his practise as seen in the series Anagram (A Pun) 1997-2002. Physically marginalised by two strokes in late 2002 he continued to work through imagery acquired by using friends as his ‘camera’ in the series Scenarios 2002-06 and Runts 2006-08. Definitely not a twilight period, the work still dynamic and often explosively experimentally as befitting man who overturned American art in a revolution that left he world a better place.

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