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Pop Artist Robert Rauschenberg Dies

ALEX CHADWICK, host:

One of the pioneers of the post-World War II American art movement is dead. Robert Rauschenberg was 82. His gallery says he died yesterday. His early works mixed ordinary objects with paint. He called them combines. One of the most famous is "Bed." The artist was too broke to buy a canvas. He took the quilt off his bed and he painted it.

MADELEINE BRAND, host:

Robert Rauschenberg was a native of Port Arthur, Texas. He went to Black Mountain College in North Carolina. He studied painting under the famous Bauhaus master Josef Albers. Rauschenberg said that his teacher's controlled and disciplined approach to art inspired the young artist to do the exact opposite.

CHADWICK: Here he is, recalling his early approach to art. This is at a symposium in Los Angeles seven years ago.

Mr. ROBERT RAUSCHENBERG (American Artist): I couldn't paint with a brush. I just loved painting so much that I painted with my hands only. And the paintings both looked like it and all of my clothes did.

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BRAND: Robert Rauschenberg said he wanted to work in the gap between art and life. As his career developed, he worked in that gap in most every way imaginable, collaborating with dancer Twyla Tharp and the musician David Burne.

CHADWICK: He built a studio at his home on Captiva Island, Florida and he continued working until the end. Here he is again at that Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art Symposium.

Mr. RAUSCHENBERG: The only unhappy days that I seriously have, other than, you know, monumental tragedies, is, like, when I can't work, damn it.

BRAND: Artist Robert Rauschenberg. He died yesterday at the age of 82.

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BRAND: Stay with us. NPR's Day to Day continues. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.