Robert Rauschenberg, American Artist, Dies at 82 source: NY Times
Itâ€™s no secret that experimentation (and the failure that goes along with it) is at the core of innovation. While weâ€™ve all probably absorbed the maximsâ€”â€fail faster to succeed soonerâ€ or â€œlet 1000 flowers bloomâ€â€”few of us have cultivated the insatiable appetite for experimentation that Rauschenberg considered his true work (the art itself, he said, was more like â€œsouvenirs of creationâ€). Dig a little bit into his story and itâ€™s hard not to be infected and inspired by his adventurous avidity for trying new thingsâ€”from kinetic sculptures to composing (he was both artistic director of Merce Cunninghamâ€™s dance company for years and a collaborator with John Cage).
But it seems Rauschenberg wasnâ€™t just fueled by some inner lightâ€”he was propelled by diverse and deep collaborations with everyone from stage performers to engineers. At one point, he founded a collective called E.A.T. (Experiments in Art and Technology) to match up artists, scientists and engineers. Most of all, he had the ability to look upon mistakes and failures as a gift: â€œScrewing up is a virtue,â€ he said. â€œBeing correct is never the point. . . Being right can stop all the momentum of a very interesting idea.â€ And thatâ€™s a lesson for all of us: productivity and genuine good-humor toward our inevitable stumbles, rather than a particular talent, puts us on the path toward success (and may in fact be the definition of success itself).
One of my favorite Art professors said to me in college, “Spectacularly failures are better than to mediocre successes.”