Even those of us who revere the work of Robert Rauschenberg have to admit that his mad aesthetic output, while jovial and fearless, borders on being suicidal and squandering and can lead to art that peters out, turns theatrical, or becomes formulaic. Although Rauschenberg contributed enormously to postwar ideas about agglomeration, order, appropriation, duplication, assemblage, collage, and photo-into-painting, his aesthetic garrulousness often turns his work into a department store: something scanned, not studied. Unlike Jasper Johns, whose art relies heavily on people talking almost ad nausea about every detail, Rauschenberg is so convinced that all things in the world are equal that the work itself often equals out and gets slushy in the mind. He is a sort of artistic suicide bomber: a true believer who is unafraid to have his work look cruddy.

more from Salz at the NY Voice here.