Robert Rauschenberg 1925-2008
Throughout his career, and particularly during the 1960s, Rauschenberg became involved in several collaborative ventures that moved him outside the confines of his studio. Rauschenberg's approach to art as an inclusive form engaging all the senses led naturally to his work in performance. Between 1954 and 1964, he designed sets, costumes, and lighting for both the Merce Cunningham Company and the Paul Taylor Company.
His early stage designs included free-standing Combines such as Minutiae (1954) and The Tower (1957), as well as what he called "live decor," in which human action became "scenery." In the early 1960s Rauschenberg worked closely with the Judson Dance Theater, a collective comprising such dancers and visual artists as Trisha Brown, Robert Morris, Steve Paxton, Yvonne Rainer, and Carolee Schneemann. Its primary objective was to liberate movement from all formal conventions.
Between 1963 and 1967, Rauschenberg choreographed and performed in at least eleven documented performance pieces. Eliminating the customary division between performer and scenic element in these works, which ranged from Pelican (1963) to Urban Round (1967), he emphasized the interaction with specially designed costumes and stage props. In his ensemble pieces, such as Spring Training (1965), Map Room II (1965), and Linoleum (1966), disparate actions - some intentionally dancerly, others entirely pedestrian - were performed simultaneously. The pieces were often accompanied by audio collages made from electronically amplified noises, compilations of prerecorded music, and found sounds.