Sadly, I wasn’t familiar with the work of Robert Rauschenberg until last week when, at 82 years old, he died. The Port Arthur-born artist gained national appeal with his exhibition Combines which included 67 works created between 1954 and 1964. In a Village Voice article, art critic Jerry Saltz compared him to Picasso, declaring him a “Dionysian maverick of experimentation, openness, visual wit and roguish nerve.

Countless articles cite Rauschenberg as a revolutionary artist who broke down barriers and produced multimedia works that were unprecedented at the time. He was a well-respected artist amongst his peers (interesting tidbit: His work is featured at the McNay Art Museum — check them out once the Jane and Arthur Stieren Center for Exhibitions opens June 7).

Although his death is a great loss for the arts community, the nature of Rauschenberg’s thoughts on death (evidenced in an interview with not too long ago — weren’t of a fear of dying itself, but a fear of what he’d miss. “ ... My fear is that after I’m gone, something interesting is going to happen, and I’m going to miss it,” said Rauschenberg.

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