Wednesday, May 14, 2008
When I was 15, I started listening to my parents music. Way before I had any idea what I was doing, I garnered a love of classic rock. Anything from Van Halen to Heart, from Styx to Led Zeppelin, I just couldn't get enough. About the same time, I purchased my very first record player for ten bucks. I had been flipping through my dad's record collection, and decided that those disks needed some listenin'.
The very first record I ever bought was Iron Maiden's The Number of the Beast. I had never even heard of Maiden, and that album blew me away. I still love them for their driving riffs and almost punk-like first album. The second album I bought was the Talking Heads' Speaking in Tongues. I bought it because the album was pressed on clear vinyl.
All of this was just a round about way for me to get to this point: two days ago, Robert Rauschenberg passed away at his home in Florida. That Talking Heads album, yeah, he designed it. It is absolutely amazing, and as it turns out, pretty rare.
Rauschengerg was one of those artists who pushed me to better my own art. Plus, he pulled us out of that "wonderful" period of art history so appropriately called abstract expressionism. I remember when I read an article about his piece Bed. (1955). He was so poor at the time that he couldn't afford canvas or stretchers. He literally painted on his own bed and stood it up against the wall. His combine works are amazing, eminating a talent with collage work that I can only dream of having.
NPR had a little story about his life yesterday, and there was one particularly interesting tidbit. Rauschenberg grew up on a small farm, completely devoid of art. The very first piece of art he saw, EVER, was when he was a soldier in WW2. He walked into a museum in Europe, and gazed with wonder at Blue Boy. Up until that point, it had never even crossed his mind that someone would paint a picture. He was in his twenties. To be able to go from that to what he became is truly something amazing.
Thanks Robert, for everything you've done for us.