Boot camp beginnings


“While at bootcamp in Farragut, Idaho, Rauschenberg got hold of a set of oil paints and began a portrait of one of his fellow recruits. Working on the piece proved a bit of a challenge “…because the john was the only place with lights on after taps,” he says, “I sat in there to finish it. When I ran out of red, I pricked my finger and rubbed it into the skin tone.” After bootcamp, Rauschenberg was assigned to the hospital corps at Camp Pendleton, near San Diego. Before he reported for duty, he visited the Huntington Gardens, where three paintings changed his life: Pinkie by Thomas Lawrence, The Blue Boy by Gainsborough and Joshua Reynolds’sSarah Siddons as the Tragic Muse. Up until this point, Rauschenberg had never seen original oil paintings and had no idea there was such a thing as being an artist. What struck him, he told Time magazine’s Robert Hughes was “…behind each of them was a man whose profession it was to make them. That just never occurred to me before.”

“. . . Rauschenberg thought of (Albers) as his most important teacher. “He was a beautiful teacher and an impossible person,” he said in an interview, nearly 20 years after Black Mountain. “I’m still learning what he taught me. What he taught had to do with the whole visual world, and it applies to whatever you’re doing, gardening or painting or whatever.”

 –Jeffrey Sadoris, Faded + Blurred

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