No matter the medium, the man was a groundbreaker, according to Mark White, museum curator.
“He was among a handful of cultural figures that experimented with performances and installations that incorporated elements previously thought to be the exclusive province of dance, music or art,” he said. “At the same time, he refused to place limits on the materials he incorporated in his work, so he began to use refuse, ephemera and cast-offs as elements in his painting and sculpture. These materials referenced everyday life in the United States and took some of the preciousness out of fine art.”
Rauschenberg’s breaking of rules helped pave the way for the Pop art explosion of the 1960s, White said. The artist passed away in 2008.