director's note
Robert Rauschenberg creating the Combine Gold Standard in Twenty Questions to
       Bob Rauschenberg, Sogetsu Art Center, Tokyo, November 28, 1964.

       Photograph by Masaaki Sekiya.
       ©2011 Masaaki Sekiya. All rights Reserved.

Director's Letter

August 1, 2013. It has been just one year since Robert Rauschenberg's assets were transferred from his trust and estate into the foundation. This transfer of his home and studio in Florida and our headquarters in New York, along with his artwork, allows us to fully realize our mission in keeping with Bob's philosophy that art can change the world.

With such an expansive mission, we have been very strategic in using our assets to benefit the public and in aligning our work to the values which define Bob's legacy.

In the past year since the transition of assets, we have:

-converted Bob's Captiva, Florida, home and studio into a fully functioning artist residency, which served more than sixty artists in our pilot year;

-broadened the foundation's philanthropic efforts from the original seven legacy grantees to ninety-five grantees across the country and grown internationally with an emphasis on the intersection of art + issues ;

-integrated all staff and art assets toward increasing access to and scholarship of his work, including a loan-bank program with universities, a gift/purchase program for museums, and the placement of Rauschenberg's work in the White House;

-Continued to build our foundation board with leaders aligned to our mission. Additions approved in June, 2013 include Chuck Close to assist with artist rights; Elizabeth Glassman to assist with all aspects of mission-based art use and the residency program; and Alex Herzan to Lead our Philanthropy Comittee;

-and finally, in support of the foundation's efforts toward establishing long-range public benefit, we have started the aggregation of our endowment.

Let me provide some examples of each of these efforts.


In spring 2012, the foundation received Rauschenberg's compound in Captiva, Florida. The property consists of ten individual residences, two studios, and an untouched tract of land with a jungle road cut randomly by Bob and John Cage. Within six months of the transfer, we launched our pilot residency in the fall of 2013, and hosted six four-week sessions with eight to ten artists in each session. The residency served artists of all disciplines—painters, photographers, writers, dancers, sound artists, and even acrobats. Our vision is to have an environmentally sensitive campus that has the collaborative opportunities Bob found at Black Mountain College and that supports the individual artist's ideas to expand and flourish.

Having just wrapped up the pilot year, we are so pleased with the comments coming back from the artists:

This proximity to Bob's life and work fueled and nurtured many ideas and I assume will continue to do so. Not since a six-week trip through India three years ago have I felt so profoundly inspired and changed from an experience. This was a complete surprise!!! I am so grateful for this!

—Jim Hodges, visual artist, June 2013

I am a huge admirer of Bob and his work, and it was definitely a strong reason I wanted to come to Captiva. His generosity and desire to help other artists is evident and strongly felt through the very existence and mission of the residency program of the foundation.

—Charles Atlas, film/video artist, April 2013

The foundation has put into place a confidential slate of selectors who have chosen the residents for next year. We are pleased to ensure that the property, which was closest to Bob's heart and practice, has been quickly put to use in a way which will serve artists for generations to come.


We have continued to expand our philanthropic efforts through pilots which broaden geographic reach, test the balance of art + issue funding, review our position on project versus operations funding, and help us understand the size of organizations we hope to support. With those tests we are narrowing down our strategic intent toward the following direction:

The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation's philanthropy is concentrated on the intersection of Art + Issues to fulfill our mission that art can change the world. We remain open to projects on either end of the art or issue spectrum but prefer to focus on creative solutions in the areas of the Environment; Education; Health and Human Services; and International Peacekeeping. The foundation values projects and organizations which exhibit the defining aspects of Robert Rauschenberg's legacy: collaborative spirit, innovative, risk-taking, creative problem-solving, generous and high impact, and experimental. We focus on organizations with less than $5 million operating budgets, including seedling organizations, and prefer to support general operations. We invest in artists through our residency program and through extending Bob's Change, Inc., allowing for artists' emergency needs. All grant programs are by invitation only while we further refine our philanthropic direction.

We have just hired our first director of philanthropy, Rise Wilson, who will continue to refine this vision and direction over time. The programs we have to announce for the first half of 2013 include the Marfa Dialogues, which will bring more than twenty-five organizations together on the topic of climate change. This program is in partnership with Ballroom Marfa and the Public Concern Foundation. We also have selected our 2013 SEED grantees in the cities of Boise, Buffalo, Cleveland, Kansas City, and Phoenix. We will be announcing a new competitive grant for the Fort Myers, Florida, area to support organizations in the area of our Rauschenberg Residency; our Artist as Activist; an expanded Change, Inc. for artists and a focused effort on Art and Education.


Part of the foundation's mission is to increase public awareness of Rauschenberg's work and to foster scholarship on his art and collaborations. To that end we have been focused on strategic sales, placement, and loans to ensure the broadest access to Rauschenberg's work.

This year we finalized the placement of a Rauschenberg work in the White House collection. The 1998 piece Early Bloomer will be one of the first modern pieces held by our nation's official home—preceded only by the work of Jacob Lawrence and Georgia O'Keefe.

At the end of this year we will announce the museums across the country which we have worked with on a gift/purchase program. With a partial donation from the foundation and partial purchase by the various institutions, this program allows more of Rauschenberg's works to enter the collections of our country's finest museums. Our goal is to ensure the greatest public access to and care of Rauschenberg's art.

This year we have launched and grown our loan-bank program, targeted to serve smaller institutions and college museums which do not have the resources to acquire a Rauschenberg or to even pay for the transportation and insurance the loan of such works would require. We have piloted this program with our neighbor, the Princeton University Art Museum. The program brought about a curriculum collaboration at the university across three academic disciplines (history, art, and dance), allowing for an in-depth study of Rauschenberg's Plank (Scenario) (2003). We will work next with the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University to create a tour of Rauschenberg's work to three college art museums, with a selection of works made to compliment the Rauschenberg holdings of the participating institutions. Centralized on a web module, the purpose is to provide students with the opportunity to curate and to allow for firsthand study of Rauschenberg's work.

We are pleased to announce the incredible web-based resource, the Rauschenberg Research Project, created by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. This focused study of the museum's holdings uses the web to bring an extraordinary level of scholarship to the broadest possible audience.

Finally, I want to add that we will be making some very exciting announcements in the fall, one of which will be the foundation's increased role in protecting artist rights in the United States. This was an issue close to Bob's heart and one for which the foundation will carry the banner going forward.

Best to all,