When Robert Rauschenberg moved to New York City in 1949, Abstract Expressionism was at the height of its art-world prestige. What that means, of course, is that it was ready for somebody to kick it in the pants. Enter
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Rauschenberg, with his new shoes on. It wasn't that he hated Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. To a man of his unbridled disposition, their vigor, their free gestures on the canvas were bound to appeal. But within a few years he would arrive at something in his own work that was more loose limbed and encompassing and...