Robert Rauschenberg was born on this day in 1925. Here you can see his work as it was displayed in the iconic MoMA exhibition 16 Americans in 1959. If you’re a fan of his art, follow the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation on social media and begin planning your trip to New York for our upcoming Rauschenberg retrospective May 21–September 17, 2017.
Today would have been Rauschenberg’s 90th birthday. From the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Archives, here are a few of our favorite birthday cards sent over the years by friends and family: Cy Twombly (2006), James Dean of NASA (1984), Bob Petersen (1982), Dora Rauschenberg (undated), Gemini G.E.L. (1994), Marian Javits (1990), and an unidentified Roberta (1968).
I don’t insist on contemporary artists being politically active but they ought to be politically conscious. And if I could be that blunt, I think the art market has been the biggest factor in determining art movements for the past decade or so; and the money involved has seduced galleries, collectors and artists to becoming super rich and very, very distanced from sociopolitical issues; art has basically become a commodity and about entertainment.
Being Iranian came as a mixed blessing of course, because Iranian artists paid a great price, having to live in exile and being censored. You really have to suffer for what you do, but I have to say that I have not become just pure commodity and my work has been effective and has been heard by non-art people from my community and that gives me a lot of pride. So I do criticize the art world and the artist today and think that this was not the case before.
That’s why I’m so proud to be apart of the Family of the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation because as a Western artist he definitely has a legacy in being politically conscious and an advocate for helping with different causes from education, to AIDS, to government, to asking for democracy. And it doesn’t mean that you don’t make highly aesthetic works but it still means that you should be engaged. I’m not saying that people shouldn’t be painting landscapes and things that aren’t completely outside of political reality but I think it’s important to be engaged.