… When you go to make something, nothing should be clearer than the fact that not only do you not have to make it but that it could look like anything, and then it starts getting interesting and then you get involved with our own limitations.
[ … ]
Richard Kostelanetz: I have noticed that you wish to avoid historical interpretations of yourself. In general would you prefer not to say that someone influenced you?
Robert Rauschenberg: No, I’ve been influenced by painting very much, but if I have avoided saying that, it was because of the general inclination, until very recently, to believe that art exists in art. At every opportunity, I’ve tried to correct that idea, suggesting that art is only a part — one of the elements that we live with.
… Being a painter, I probably take a painting more seriously than someone who drives a truck or something. Being a painter, I probably also take his truck more seriously.
R.K.: In what sense?
R.R.: In the sense of looking at it and listening to it and comparing it to other trucks and having a sense of its relationship to the road and the sidewalk and the things around it and the driver himself. Observation and measure are my business.
[ … ]
R.R.: … I think if you want to make a generalization, there are probably two kinds of artists. One kind works independently, following his own drives and instincts; the work becomes the product, or the witness, or the evidence of his own personal involvement and curiosity. It’s almost as if art, in painting and music and stuff, is the leftover of some activity. The activity is the thing that I’m most interested in. Nearly everything that I’ve done was to see what would happen if I did this instead of that.
R.K.: You would believe then that art is not a temple to which you apprentice yourself for future success.
R.R.: It’s like outside focus and inside focus. A lot of painters use a studio to isolate themselves; I prefer to free and expose myself.
[ … ]
R.R.: … When you go to make something, nothing should be clearer than the fact that not only do you not have to make it but that it could look like anything, and then it starts getting interesting and then you get involved with our own limitations.