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Goat, tire, horizontal painting? Why is this one of Rauschenberg’s most famous artworks?

Rauschenberg usually found most of his material dumpster diving on the streets near his studio in Lower Manhattan. He bought this stuffed Angora goat in a nearby second hand shop for $15. The face was messed up so he painted it. Angora goats prized for their soft hair were raised in Texas, Rauschenberg’s home state. Legend has it that Rauschenberg had a pet goat when he was growing up. His father killed the beloved goat greatly upsetting Rauschenberg.

The goat and tire went through several transformations in Rauschenberg’s studio. In fact it took four years before the artist was satisfied with it. The artist liked to include oddball items in his “combines”. If you walk around the piece you will see a tennis ball painted brown near the rear of the goat. You can guess what that represents. There is also the heel of a shoe and part of a police barrier. Rauschenberg liked to be inclusive.

At that time, no other artists had used found objects as an integral part of their work. Rauschenberg was revolutionary. Monogram has become possibly his best-known and most controversial work.

Rauschenberg once said, “Screwing things up is a virtue. Being correct is never the point…Being right can stop all the momentum of a very interesting idea.”

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Monogram (artwork)

Monogram is a "combine" by American artist Robert Rauschenberg, made during 1955-1959. It consists of a stuffed goat with its midsection passing through an automobile tire. It has been described as Rauschenberg's most famous work. Since its purchase by Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden, in 1965, it has remained there with occasional world tours.


Rauschenberg created a series of combines between 1954 and 1964, where he merged different aspects of painting and sculpture to create a new artistic category. The artist first saw the stuffed Angora goat in the window of a secondhand furniture store at Seventh Avenue in New York. He took interest in the object and bought it by 15 dollars. Rauschenberg brought it to his studio and would work on this combine during the next five years, during which it evolved into three different forms, documented by several studies and phtographs, before its final result. The title came from the result of the union of the goat and the tire, which reminded the artist of the letters in a monogram.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Monogram (artwork).