Rauschenberg's first one-man show took place in 1951 at the Betty Parsons Gallery in New York. At this time his work was minimalist in style, often using single colours in his paintings. In the mid-50s, he developed a collage and montage technique called 'combine painting' using real objects such as photographs and 'found' objects which he affixed to the painting's surface. His studio was a junk heap, containing items as varied as cola bottles, clocks, radios and fragments of clothing which would eventually be integrated into his work.
Rauschenberg's innovative technique included being the first artist to incorporate silk-screen printing on canvas, and by the end of the Fifties his reputation was assured. One of his most famous works, 'Monogram' (1955-1959) featured a stuffed goat with a rubber tyre surrounding his middle and splashed with paint in a style reminiscent of Action painting.
In 1966, fueled by his desire to fuse art with technology, he helped form EAT (Experiments in Art and Technology) a group enabling artists and engineers to work together. Moving away from Abstract Expressionism, he became involved in theatre production, choreography and Pop Art as he extended the means through which his ideas could be expressed. From 1984 through 1991, the artist pursued the Rauschenberg Overseas Cultural Interchange (ROCI). In this program, Rauschenberg and his assistants travelled the world to work collaboratively with artists and craftsmen of many nationalities.
In 1997, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, exhibited the largest retrospective of Rauschenberg’s work to date, which traveled to Houston and to Europe in 1998. Rauschenberg died at the age of 82 in May 2008 at his home in Captiva Island Florida, USA.
“My work is about wanting to change your mind. Not for the art’s sake, not for the sake of that individual piece, but for the sake of the mutual co-existence of the entire environment.”