Magazine article Newsweek

A Marvelous Object Maker

Magazine article Newsweek

A Marvelous Object Maker

Article excerpt

Byline: As told to Jennie Yabroff

ROBERT RAUSCHENBERG, 81, Artist

In a legendary 1953 stunt, Robert Rauschenberg painstakingly erased a Willem de Kooning drawing. But the modern master, who died last week at his home in Captiva, Fla., will be remembered for what he gave the art world, not what he took away. His "combines" incorporated paint, found objects, text and sometimes even sound. Long before the computer age, he was a true multimedia artist, culling beauty from the detritus of modern life. Choreographer Merce Cunningham shared these memories of his longtime friend and frequent collaborator.

I first met Bob at Black Mountain College in North Carolina, where I'd come to give dance classes for the summer session. I remember his feet. They were not very flexible, but they were interesting--the size and the shape. At Black Mountain, [composer John] Cage devised this evening, the first Happening. It was Cage, [musician] David Tudor, Rauschenberg, [poet] M.C. Richards, myself. We could do whatever we wanted. I remember Bob at the top of a ladder, with an old-fashioned Victrola that you wound up, playing records. The record player was probably something he had in his room. He had this gift of being able to use anything he saw. Later on, in New York, we became friends. I asked him to make something for me, and two or three weeks later I went to his loft to see it. There was this star-shaped object made of materials from the street--sticks of wood, sheets of plastic, bits of newspaper, comic strips. …

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