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A Week of Sanibel Secrets: #3

Robert Rauschenberg; photo from


Did you know …

… that Captiva Island was the full-time home of artist Robert Rauschenberg?

Milton Earnest (aka Robert) Rauschenberg, known as one of the most successful American artists of the 20th century, moved to Captiva in 1968 when there was only one telephone to the mainland, one policeman for about 50 families, and only a ferry to get on and off the island.

He moved his main base from Lafayette Street in Manhattan to Captiva’s Beach House, a two-story building on the shore.  In the decade that followed, Rauschenberg purchased six more properties, spread across 20 acres, becoming the largest single landowner on the island. His goal was to keep Captiva as untouched as possible.

In 1970, Rauschenberg described Captiva as “the foundation of my life and my work; it is the source and reserve of my energies.”

It had “a magic that was unexplainable in its power,” the artist famous for his massive mixed-media art noted.

He would live on the island for 38 years, and it remained a profound influence on his art until his death in 2008.

On the Rauschenberg Foundation’s website, you can explore a brief history of Rauschenberg’s Captiva property, how the buildings were used historically, how they were used by the artist during his nearly four decades living and working on the island, and how the spaces are used today by the artists in residence.

For more, click here for a 2016 article from Newsweek entitled “Captiva: The Island that Changed Rauschenberg and 20th Century Art.”

Thanks in part to “Bob’s” influence, there is now a large artist culture that thrives on Sanibel and Captiva, and extends to our outlying region as well.  Today, Southwest Florida is home to more than 125 art galleries, studios, and museums.

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