Skip navigation
Hardcover | Out of Print | 296 pp. | 7.5 x 9 in | 14 color illus., 68, b&w illus. | August 2010 | ISBN: 9780262014250
Paperback | $24.95 Trade | £19.95 | 296 pp. | 7.5 x 9 in | 14 color illus., 68, b&w illus. | February 2014 | ISBN: 9780262526111
Mouseover for Online Attention Data

The Great Migrator

Robert Rauschenberg and the Global Rise of American Art


In 1964, Robert Rauschenberg, already a frequent transatlantic traveler, became even more peripatetic, joining the Merce Cunningham Dance Company as costume and set designer for its first world tour. Rauschenberg and the company visited thirty cities in fourteen countries throughout Europe and Asia. During the tour, he not only devised sets and costumes but also enacted his own performances and created works of art, often using local materials and collaborating with local art communities.

In The Great Migrator, Hiroko Ikegami examines Rauschenberg’s activities abroad and charts the increasing international dominance of American art during that period. Unlike other writers, who have viewed the export of American art during the 1950s and 1960s as another form of Cold War propagandizing (and famous American artists as cultural imperialists), Ikegami sees the global rise of American art as a cross-cultural phenomenon in which each art community Rauschenberg visited was searching in different ways for cultural and artistic identity in the midst of Americanization. Rauschenberg’s travels and collaborations established a new kind of transnational network for the postwar art world—prefiguring the globalization of art before the era of globalization. Ikegami focuses on Rauschenberg’s stops in four cities: Paris, Venice (where he became the first American to win the Grand Prize at the Venice Biennale), Stockholm, and Tokyo. In each city, she tells us, Rauschenberg’s work encountered both enthusiasm and resistance (which was often a reaction against American power). Ikegami’s account offers a fresh, nonbinary perspective on the global and the local.

About the Author

Hiroko Ikegami, an art historian who specializes in American art and the postwar globalization of the art world, is Associate Professor in the Graduate School of Intercultural Studies at Kobe University.

Table of Contents

  • The Great Migrator
  • The Great Migrator
  • Robert Rauschenberg and the Global Rise
of American Art
  • Hiroko Ikegami
  • The MIT Press
  • Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • London, England
  • © 2010
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced 
in any form by any electronic or mechanical means (including 
photocopying, recording, or information storage and retrieval) 
without permission in writing from the publisher.
  • All art by Robert Rauschenberg is © Estate of Robert Rauschenberg/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY.
  • Publication of this book has been aided by a Wyeth 
Foundation for American Art Publication Grant of 
the College Art Association.
  • MIT Press books may be purchased at special quantity discounts 
for business or sales promotional use. For information, 
please email 
or write to Special Sales Department, The MIT Press, 
55 Hayward Street, Cambridge, MA 02142.
  • This book was set in Minion Pro by Graphic Composition, Inc. Printed and bound in Spain.
  • Library of Congress Cataloging-­in-­Publication Data
  • Ikegami, Hiroko, 1973–
  •  The great migrator : Robert Rauschenberg and the global rise 
of American art / Hiroko Ikegami.
  •   p. cm.
  • Includes bibliographical references and index.
  • ISBN 978-­0-­262-­01425-­0 (hardcover : alk. paper) 
1. Rauschenberg, Robert, 1925–2008—Criticism and 
interpretation. 2. Rauschenberg, Robert, 1925–2008—Travel. 
3. Art, American—20th century. 4. Modernism (Art)—Influence.
I. Rauschenberg, Robert, 1925–2008. II. Title. III. Title: Robert Rauschenberg and the global rise of American art.
  •  N6537.R27I38 2010
  •  709.2—dc22
  • 2009044340
  • 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

  • For Tsukasa
  • Contents
  • Acknowledgments
  • ix

  • Notes to the Reader
  • xiii

  • Introduction
  • 1

  • Discovering “The Great Migrator”
  • A Triumph in Paris
  • 17

  • Engineering Rauschenberg’s 
Global Market
  • A Spectacle in Venice
  • 57

  • Inside and Outside Rauschenberg’s 
  • A Conflict in Stockholm
  • 103

  • The Rise and Fall of
  • Monogram
  • A Dialogue in Tokyo
  • 153

  • Rauschenberg Meets the Japanese 
  • Conclusion
  • 205

  • Becoming “The” American Artist
  • Appendix: Robert Rauschenberg’s 213
Exhibition History outside the United States,
  • Notes
  • 217

  • Bibliography
  • 247

  • Index
  • 265


“Ikegami's book offers not one but two significant interventions into the scholarship of modern and contemporary art. The first lies in the author's archival recovery of key primary source materials from Venice, Stockholm, and Japan. The second concerns the construction and reconstruction of a global/transnational history of art, an enterprise that is no longer simply modern or American but migrates freely between established conceptual and historiographical categories. This study helps to pave the way forward for a methodologically evolving field that takes a global perspective on world art history. And in this context, Rauschenberg emerges as 'the great migrator'—a uniquely powerful figure of transience, transformation, and transnationalism.”
Marcia Brennan, Associate Professor of Art History, Rice University; author of Curating Consciousness: Mysticism and the Modern Museum
“Offering a pre-history of the global contemporary, Ikegami traces Rauschenberg's tour with the Cunningham dance troupe in the mid-1960s to articulate the explosive impact, xenophilic embrace, and paranoid protectionism stimulated by American art abroad. This is a pioneering work of transnational art history, packed with juicy details and meticulously researched across Europe and into Japan.”
Caroline Jones, Director of History, Theory, and Criticism Program at MIT