American painter and graphic artist Milton Ernest “Robert” Rauschenberg is regarded as one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century. Rauschenberg was born in Port Arthur, Texas, later served in the U.S. Navy, and subsequently attended the Kansas City Art Institute and Black Mountain College in Asheville, North Carolina. Rauschenberg and his close friend Jasper Johns are referred to as Neo Dadaists; this category of artists continued the earlier Dada movement in which artists questioned the very definition of a work of art. In the 1950s, Rauschenberg created what would become his most well-known “combines,” where he merges painting and sculpture by adhering photographs, detritus, and found objects into paintings.
Robert Rauschenberg in his Broadway studio, New York, ca. 1962, with Navigator (1962). Photograph Collection. Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Archives, New York. Photo: Attributed to Steve Paxton, 1962.