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Robert Rauschenberg was born Milton Ernest Rauschenberg on October 22, 1925, in Port Arthur, Texas. After briefly attending the University of Texas to study pharmacology, and serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II, Rauschenberg decided to study art. He attended the Kansas City Art Institute, the renowned Academie Julien in Paris, and Black Mountain College in North Carolina where he studied under abstract painter Joseph Albers and formed professional relationships with avant-guard composer John Cage and choreographer Merce Cunningham.
He moved to New York in 1949 where he attended the Art Students League. While painting and experimenting with blueprints during the early 1950’s, Rauschenberg also designed display windows for department stores. His first one-man show at Betty Parsons Gallery took place in 1951. The artist’s early works helped to open the tracts of pop art in 1953 when he began his famous ‘combine paintings’ that incorporated sculptural elements into his work. In 1962 Rauschenberg made his first lithographs and silkscreens.
Robert Rauschenberg’s work is housed in virtually every important international collection of contemporary art. In 1998 the prestigious Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum had a mammoth retrospective of 400 art works by Robert Rauschenberg including drawings, paintings and limited edition prints. His artwork spiraled up all the main floors of the museum and was touted as the largest retrospective to date for any artist at the Guggenheim.