Rauschenberg in front of the Fish House with Global Chute (Kabal American Zephyr) (1982), Captiva, Florida, circa 1982. Photo: Terry Van Brunt
Throughout his career, Robert Rauschenberg used his platform as an artist to increase knowledge about global issues and to raise money for many causes and organizations.
The safekeeping of the environment and the notion of individual responsibility for the welfare of life on earth was one of Rauschenberg’s key causes. This commitment to the environment that extended throughout various aspects of his work and life took focus in 1970 when he purchased his first tract of land on Captiva Island. Rauschenberg viewed his residence in Captiva as dependent on the natural environment of the island. He therefore focused on the maintenance of this land as a natural habitat throughout his lifetime. Images from the surrounding landscape and wildlife, as well as of issues that affected the island such as water conservation, served as regular inspiration for his work. Over the course of forty years, he bought historic cottages and adjacent land to preserve and protect it from encroaching commercial development, and undertook a significant restoration of the landscape after Hurricane Charley in 2004.
Today the property remains intact as a pristine natural environment, hosting more than seventy artists each year for month-long residencies in Rauschenberg’s former home and studio.