RIP Robert Rauschenberg

Robert Rauschenberg, American Artist, Dies at 82 source: NY Times

This man is an important influence on my creative work. Such an amazing innovator. (Thanks for the link to that one @10ch)

Fearless Experimentation

It’s no secret that experimentation (and the failure that goes along with it) is at the core of innovation. While we’ve all probably absorbed the maxims—”fail faster to succeed sooner” or “let 1000 flowers bloom”—few of us have cultivated the insatiable appetite for experimentation that Rauschenberg considered his true work (the art itself, he said, was more like “souvenirs of creation”). Dig a little bit into his story and it’s hard not to be infected and inspired by his adventurous avidity for trying new things—from kinetic sculptures to composing (he was both artistic director of Merce Cunningham’s dance company for years and a collaborator with John Cage).

But it seems Rauschenberg wasn’t just fueled by some inner light—he was propelled by diverse and deep collaborations with everyone from stage performers to engineers. At one point, he founded a collective called E.A.T. (Experiments in Art and Technology) to match up artists, scientists and engineers. Most of all, he had the ability to look upon mistakes and failures as a gift: “Screwing up is a virtue,” he said. “Being correct is never the point. . . Being right can stop all the momentum of a very interesting idea.” And that’s a lesson for all of us: productivity and genuine good-humor toward our inevitable stumbles, rather than a particular talent, puts us on the path toward success (and may in fact be the definition of success itself).

One of my favorite Art professors said to me in college, “Spectacularly failures are better than to mediocre successes.”

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