Robert Rauschenberg's Combines / by Chris Hall

Robert Rauschenberg, Rebus, 1955

I can’t put my finger on it, but there seems to me to be something distinctly Southern about Rauschenberg’s work from the 50’s, primarily his combines and collages.  I picked up on this before I even knew he was a Southerner, born and raised in Port Arthur, Texas.  Perhaps it the Outsider Art sensibility that the work evokes, or the patchwork on the quilt in Bed (1955), or maybe it is the yellowed paper he used in the collages, conjuring up images of things past, and thoughts of loss and decay.  For me the work is quite beautiful, somehow both somber and playful at the same time.