Robert Rauschenberg’s Beauty

Robert Rauschenberg died Monday at age 82. He was a prolific American pop artist about whom much has been written. This sentence, in which American composer John Cage refers to Rauschenberg’s art, is one which stands alone.

“Beauty is now underfoot wherever we take the trouble to look.”

Rauschenberg blurred lines between painting, sculpture, photography, and print and paper making. He was also known to pick up trash on the streets of New York and that is what Cage was referring to. Not only could junk be the stuff of art – but in Rauschenberg’s hands it could become beautiful art.

Aside from the specific context that Rauschenberg’s non-traditional approach provided inspiration to other artists, this sentence can be an inspiration to our lives. Cage uses “underfoot” as though you might rush by and trample it. He doesn’t say that we see it; he says we need to take the trouble to look. This sentence speaks of missed opportunities. It’s a more sophisticated version of “stop and smell the roses.” Beauty is there. Now.

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