Robert Rauschenberg, whom many, including this writer, believe to be the biggest innovator in art after Jackson Pollock, died on Monday at age 82, an acknowledged hero of the avant garde. The passings of these two artists could not have been more different. Pollock careened to his death in a fatal 1956 car crash at age 44. Rauschenberg, to paraphrase Dylan Thomas, did not go gently into that good night. Paralyzed by a stroke, like his own hero de Kooning, he continued to work until the end of a long and productive life. From a wheelchair in his beachfront studio in Captiva, Fla., where he had retired from the New York art scene in the late 1960s, he selected images from the vast archive of his own photographs and, working with the aid of assistants, continued to turn out a steady stream of canvases and sculptures. Nor did he let the stroke keep him from attending openings and festivities.
The Wikipedia entry as it read on Sunday, 18 May, 2008 and some images follow: