John (from the Ruminations series)
Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008) was born in Port Arthur, TX. In 1943 he entered the University of Texas to study pharmacy. That same year he was drafted into the U.S. Navy and served as a neuropsychiatric technician in San Diego at the Navy Hospital Corps until his honorable discharge in 1945. He worked at Ballerina Bathing Suit Factory in Los Angeles in 1946. Rauschenberg subsequently studied at the Kansas City Art Institute and the Académie Julian in Paris, France, where he met the painter Susan Weil. Rauschenberg and Weil enrolled at Black Mountain in October 1948 to seek instruction from former Bauhaus professor Joseph Albers. As students, Rauschenberg and Weil gained a reputation for collecting scrap materials while on garbage duty, turning a chore into an envied discovery expedition. This kind of salvaged matter would be integrated into the Combines (1954–64). Rauschenberg’s encounters and collaborations with other artists at Black Mountain were critical to the development of his artistic sensibility.