Rauschenberg Rocked

Talking to the painter was 'like being on some ecstatic drug': David Byrne
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 16, 2008 12:37 PM CDT
"Barge" by American artist Robert Rauschenberg is displayed at "The Art in America." Rauschenberg brought new ideas to painting, collage, sculpture, graphic design, and other fields.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – In some ways, Robert Rauschenberg lived more of the rock ’n’ roll life than his friend and collaborator David Byrne, who offers an affectionate farewell in the New York Times today. His life was just as wild and unpredictable as his work, says the Talking Heads founder. "Conversation was like one of his pieces: a crazy mishmash of images, multiple layers and references, and a spray of allusions that were simultaneously silly, profound and beautiful—he was the Neal Cassady of the art world."

And Rauschenberg, who died this week at 82, was profligate in sharing his enthusiasm for life. Being around him was "like being on some kind of ecstatic drug," says Byrne, for whom the artist designed the Grammy-winning album cover for "Speaking in Tongues." "He inspired those around him to not only think outside of the box," Byrne adds,  "but to question the box’s very existence."