I am generally skeptical of Pop Art and Abstract Expressionism. While I do believe that there were brilliant practitioners of these movements, there were not many, and even those who did great work were often sullied by the temptation to produce subpar work for a ravenous art market.
Still others, unfortunately, produced “art” that may have been of conceptual and, possibly, historical value, but lacked intrinsic aesthetic value.
Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but no one looks upon an Winslow Homer watercolor and fails to see beauty. And, frankly, if a work is purely conceptual, I’d rather just have the concept written on a napkin.
Robert Rauschenberg, who died today at 82, was guilty of all of the above. Nevertheless, I am inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt. I have seen a few of his mixed media paintings and found some of them to be compositionally beautiful, moving, true expressions of artistic talent.
But a lot of it was junk. So, as always, judge for yourself. Here’s his bio and video from PBS’s American Masters site.