Before he became an artist, Robert Rauschenberg served in the U.S. Navy Hospital Corps in San Diego during World War II. In 1947 he began his art career by studying fashion design at the Kansas City Art Institute in Kansas City, Missouri, followed by a stay in Paris. In 1948 he enrolled at Black Mountain College in North Carolina, where he studied under Joseph Albers (1888–1976) and met John Cage (1912–1992), among others. In the 1950s, after traveling Europe and North Africa with Cy Twombly (1928–2011), Rauschenberg befriended Jasper Johns (b. 1930) during his early years in New York. He soon became famous for his series of “Black Paintings” and “White Paintings,” which commented on Abstract Expressionism. Although Rauschenberg is often associated Pop art, his work cannot be linked to one style or movement. His notable “Combined Paintings” series of sculptural collages reflect his lifelong practice of using various mediums, techniques, and materials, as well as his belief in the relationship between art and life. In 1963 Rauschenberg earned an early retrospective at the Jewish Museum in New York; the following year he was awarded the grand prize for painting at the Venice Biennale (1964).