Robert Rauschenberg is the first posthumous retrospective of this defining figure of 20th-century art. At the time when Rauschenberg (1925–2008) launched his career, the heroic gestural painting of Abstract Expressionism was seen as the dominant mode of American avant-garde art.
Rauschenberg challenged this tradition, inventing radically new models of artistic practice that shaped the decades to come. He created works that merged traditional art materials with ordinary objects, found imagery, and technological components; developed new modes of performance art and performative work; and organized collaborative projects that crossed boundaries of media. This retrospective will contextualize Rauschenberg’s foundational Combines (1954–64) and his widely celebrated silkscreen paintings (1962–64) in new ways, while also giving focus to less canonical periods within the artist’s career, namely his work of the early 1950s and from the late 1960s onward, now compelling and prescient to contemporary eyes. At MoMA, Robert Rauschenberg has been conceived as an “open monograph,” so that as other artists, dancers, musicians, and writers came into Rauschenberg’s creative life, their work will enter the exhibition. Groups of work will be gathered around important sites at which people came together and objects were shown in association, starting with Black Mountain College, then moving to Rauschenberg’s Fulton and Pearl Street Studios in New York City, and eventually to Captiva Island, Florida, where he concluded his prolific career. In addition to MoMA, Robert Rauschenberg will be on view at the Tate Modern (November 30, 2016–April 2, 2017) and The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (November 4, 2017–March 25, 2018).