PRINT September 2008


WITH BOB RAUSCHENBERG, we have lost a great mind and an extremely generous individual. Bob had the design ability and finesse to take throwaways and assemble them to make them sparkle intellectually.

Bob’s thrill was the chance encounter. He shot from the hip. He didn’t edit his photos or his work. There was no good or bad. Often, the bad became brilliant. Once I walked into a show of his in New York with Isamu Noguchi. Bob had a bent oil barrel on the floor next to a bent car bumper. Isamu said, “Boy, he can really do it, can’t he?” I said, “Do what?”

I met Bob when I first came to New York, when he was thirty-three years old. I stumbled on him looking for a loft down by Wall Street. We did a lot of barhopping, but after ten years I couldn’t keep up. One night in a bar in the winter, Bob said, “I just bought a place in Captiva, Florida.” I said, “I wish I could get away from the cold.” He gave me the keys to his new digs and car. I stayed three weeks. I could go on and on about his generosity but I don’t have enough paper. At the Venice Biennale in 1964, which he won, I didn’t have a ticket to get in. I spotted him at the door. He yelled out, “If you don’t let Jim in, I’m leaving this show!” I got in.

Bob traveled around the world with the Rauschenberg Overseas Cultural Interchange (ROCI). I continued to bump into him everywhere.

James Rosenquist is an artist based in Captiva, Florida.