from The New York Times

Fruitful Talent Who Made Art World Multiply

Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

“Robert Rauschenberg,” a survey at Gagosian Gallery, includes “Palladian Xmas” (1980), with acrylic, fabric and collage on wood. More Photos »

Robert Rauschenberg, the subject of a chock-a-block time capsule of a show at Gagosian Gallery in Chelsea, was an optimist and a doer. He not only did what artists normally do: make paintings, sculptures, prints and photographs. He also did the work of performers, musicians, philanthropists and career politicians.

He danced, composed, gave away money and initiated diplomatic missions, always on behalf of art. He believed that if he, or we, or anyone could just produce enough art, then art and life would be the same thing, and the world would change for the better. So, committed universal citizen that he was, he kept trying to make enough.

He made a lot. He was blessed with sunny energy, immense talent and an unstoppable creative flow, the equivalent of stream of consciousness in literature. For years on end, that stream rushed forward, turning whatever it swept up — childhood memories, art history, street junk, nature, the daily news — into gold. Then for stretches, and quite lengthy ones, it meandered and pooled. Even then, the flow never stopped. In a six-decade career, Rauschenberg turned out more than 6,000 works of art, some of preposterous size and ambition.

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