Born in Port Arthur, Texas, he studied at the Kansas City Art Institute and the Académie Julian in Paris France, before enrolling in 1948 at the legendary Black Mountain College in North Carolina. There his painting instructor was the renowned Bauhaus figure Josef Albers, whose rigid discipline and sense of method inspired Rauschenberg, as he once said, to do "exactly the reverse" of what Albers taught him. The "white paintings" produced by Rauschenberg at Black Mountain in 1951, while they contain no image at all, are said to be so exceptionally blank and reflective that their surfaces respond and change in sympathy with the ambient conditions in which they are shown. The White Paintings are said to have directly influenced Cage in the composition of his completely "silent" piece titled 4'33" the following year. In 1952 Rauschenberg began his series of "Black Paintings" and "Red Paintings," in which large, expressionistically brushed areas of color were combined with collage and found objects attached to the canvas. These so-called "Combine Paintings" ultimately came to include such theretofore un-painterly objects as a stuffed goat and the artist's own bed quilt, breaking down traditional boundaries between painting and sculpture. Rauschenberg's approach was sometimes called "Neo-Dada," a label he shared with the painter Jasper Johns, with whom he had a long artistic and personal relationship. By 1962, Rauschenberg's paintings were beginning to incorporate not only found objects but found images as well-photographs transferred to the canvas by means of the silkscreen process. Previously used only in commercial applications, silkscreen allowed Rauschenberg to address the multiple reproducibility of images, and the consequent flattening of experience that that implies. In this respect, his work is exactly contemporaneous with that of Andy Warhol, and both Rauschenberg and Johns are frequently cited as important forerunners of American Pop Art. In 1966, Billy Klüver and Rauschenberg officially launched Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.) a non-profit organization established to promote collaborations between artists and engineers. In addition to painting and sculpture, Rauschenberg's long career has also included significant contributions to printmaking and Performance Art. He also won a Grammy Award for his album design of the Talking Heads album Speaking in Tongues. He continues to work from his home and studio in Captiva, Florida.