USF Mourns Pop Art Pioneer Robert Rauschenberg

TAMPA, Fla. (May 15, 2007) - Revolutionary American painter Robert Rauschenberg died May 12 at the age of 82 at his home in Captiva, Fla.  A great friend to the University of South Florida since 1972, he received an honorary doctorate degree from USF in 1976 -- an indication of how long his relationship lasted.  USF Contemporary Art Museum holds 178 works* by Rauschenberg in the permanent collection.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of this extraordinary artist,” said USF President Judy Genshaft.  “His association with Graphicstudio helped put USF's institute for research in art on the national map and all those who worked with him over the years admired his creativity and generous spirit.”

Several of Rauchenberg’s sculptures will be featured Jun. 20 through Aug. 1 in an exhibition titled The Hidden Noise: Considering the Object at the USF Contemporary Art Museum and most recently, one of his silkscreens from the USF collection was on view at the National Gallery in Washington, D.C.
Rauschenberg became one of the world's most renowned painters in the 1950s and 1960s helping create the transition from European modernism to American pop art. 
According to the director of USF Contemporary Art Museum, Margaret Miller, Rauschenberg began to work with USF's Graphicstudio between January and March 1972.  He incorporated an array of found materials including cardboard boxes into his prints.

“Graphicstudio's founding director, Donald J. Saff, recruited him to work at USF,” said Miller.  “He collaborated with USF art department faculty members Oscar Bailey, Alan Eaker and printers Paul Clinton and Charles Ringess and over the next decade he created a total of 39 original editions of prints, photographs and sculpture multiples at USF’s Graphicstudio.
"The international stories about him recognize the significance of Graphicstudio and the Contemporary Art Museum," Miller added. "Rauschenberg helped advance Graphicstudio into international prestige with the works he gave to the collection in the Contemporary Art Museum and along with the media attention helped to reinforce the excellent reputation of these programs.”

In 1976, Rauschenberg donated the “New York Collection for Stockholm Portfolio” to the permanent collection of USF CAM.  The portfolio contains 30 works by prominent New York artists of the 1960s including Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Morris, Nam June Paik, James Rosenquist, Richard Serra and Andy Warhol.

In 1984 Donald Saff initiated and directed the Rauschenberg Overseas Culture Interchange Exchange.  Brenda Woodard, then the assistant director of Graphicstudio and now an administrator in the College of Visual and Performing Arts assisted.  An evolving exhibition of Rauschenberg’s work traveled until 1991 worldwide to Chile; Caracas, Venezuela; Beijing, China; Lhasa, Tibet; Tokyo, Japan; Havana, Cuba; Moscow in the then-USSR; East and West Berlin, Germany (shortly after the wall came down); and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  In each country, there was a special catalogue for the site in the language of the country, which included an article/poem/statement by that country’s leading author or poet.  When it was shown at the last stop in Washington, D.C., it was almost an entirely different show from the first stop.  Graphicstudio published a series of sculpture multiples created for each exhibition venue.

Robert Rauschenberg’s Graphicstudio productions, part of the permanent collection of the University of South Florida Contemporary Art Museum, were included in two recent major exhibitions.

Four of Rauschenberg’s Made in Tampa Clay Pieces (1972-1973) were shown in the exhibition “Robert Rauschenberg: Cardboards and Related Pieces” at The Menil Collection Feb. 23 through May 13, 2007, and were reproduced in the accompanying catalogue.

National Gallery:
The silkscreen print Mangrove, from the “Crops” Suite (1973) was included among the more than 400 prints in the National Gallery of Art’s exhibition “Let the World In: Prints by Robert Rauschenberg from the National Gallery of Art and Related Collections,” on view Oct. 28, 2007 through Mar. 30, 2008.

Several of Rauschenberg's sculptures and editions of prints and photographs published with Graphicstudio will be featured Jun. 20 through Aug. 1 in an exhibition titled Rauschenberg: USF at the USF Contemporary Art Museum.


The University of South Florida is among the nation's top 63 public research universities and one of 39 community engaged public universities as designated by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.  It is one of Florida's top three research universities.  USF was awarded more than $300 million in research contracts and grants last year. The University offers 219 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, specialist and doctoral levels, including the doctor of medicine.  The University has a $1.8 billion annual budget, an annual economic impact of $3.2 billion, and serves more than 45,000 students on campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland.  USF is a member of the Big East Athletic Conference.

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