Rauschenberg's most famous quote was that he wanted to work "in the gap between art and life.” This was in reference to his use of found, everyday objects. His first paintings were a series of all-white and all-black surfaces underlaid with wrinkled newspaper. Later, he became famous for making art from everyday materials he found from walking around the block. One of his most famous works or "combines" was "Bed," created when he woke in the mood to paint, but had no money for a canvas. His solution was to take the quilt off his bed and use paint, toothpaste and fingernail polish for his creation. "If I couldn't find material to do an artwork walking around the block once, I wouldn't do it."
Rauschenberg's Combines provided inspiration for a generation of artists seeking alternatives to traditional artistic media.Rauschenberg's approach was sometimes called "Neo-Dada," a label he shared with the painter, close friend, and sometime lover Jasper Johns.
Rauschenberg met Jasper Johns in 1954. Jasper Johns said that no one has invented more than Rauschenberg since Picasso. Rauschenberg was also famous for once erasing a Willem de Kooning drawing and declaring his erasure to be art.
"I don't ever want to go," he told Harper's Bazaar in a 1997 interview, when asked about his own fatality. "I don't have a sense of great reality about the next world; my feet are too ugly to wear those golden slippers. But I'm working on my fear of it. And my fear is that something interesting will happen, and I'll miss it."