A book-length interview with Robert Rauschenberg done by Barbara Rose, art critic, in 1987.
The overview @ Flickr
If it's not enough to know that I found this little book very informative,
I love love love Rauschenberg's seriously dyslexic way of putting words together, and
that it only added to my already pretty intense adoration of this man, then please read my brief overview.
The Why: Have I ever explained why this is part of my mission101 task list? Probably not. So, I will.
Early last year, after clicking on a link entitled 'the art of gay cool' provided by my 'The Daily Beast' email, I went just a little crazy. I like guys with guys, it's simple and as much as I like Brian/ Justin et al,, to find out that two of my ART HEROES were not only gay but, for a time, had been partners made me curious, made me want to know more like why I hadn't known that already. After the past year of research, both internet and hard-copy books, while I do have more information at hand, with much of it conflicting, very little of my enlightenment comes from the two actually involved. And so it will probably remain.
Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns were together in New York City between 1954, when Rauschenberg was 29 and sort of known and Johns was 24 and completely unknown, until around 1963 when both fairly suddenly found himself on the precipice of much fame and much fortune. Actually, fame had been lapping at their heels for three to four years, initially finding Johns to be a little more tasty than Rauschenberg which is partially why, I think, their relationship crashed down so hard around them. Much later in life, they were able to reclaim friendship, there are photos of them together as senior citizens.
Each, at one time or another, has been considered 'The Greatest Living American Artist' and the consensus is that each was the others very best support, guide, and friend. They came together during one of the -- if not THE -- most repressive eras of American history, more alleged homosexuals were fired from Federal jobs than alleged communists. They didn't survive it, at least not with each other, and even if their names will be eternally linked in the annals of art history. Only Johns remains, Rauschenberg died in 2008. Neither had ever 'outed' himself, I think more out of respect for the privacy of the other, they are both southern gentlemen to some extent, and to do something so personal isn't, or wasn't, their way and for a time, their personal reputations took the hit for their, apparently, mutually minimal response to changing times. Now we are better able to put people and events in the context of their eras. Harvey Milk could proclaim himself, they couldn't.
And so, I think anyway, therein lies a great story. A true story mostly hidden. I'm going to try and write it, if only for myself, a short story which will most probably never even be post here. Fictional Memoir, from Johns POV, is one thought. Straight up Historical Fiction, from varying POVs, is another. Something along the lines of 'Loving Frank' by Nancy Horan except not so grand and realizing that Frank Lloyd Wright had been dead a long time when Horan undertook her task while Jasper Johns continues to productively live his elegantly austere -- as if as a monk it's said -- life and will hopefully continue to do so for a very long time. Of the two, I admit, it's Johns who most touches my heart.
To quote Francesco Vezzoli from the above-linked The Daily Beast article, “To me, Rauschenberg and Johns are mythological as two serious, strong people, sharing ideas, and creating work together. I find that deeply inspiring.”
Ditto. Together, they filled the gap between Abstract Expressionism and Pop, leading art in American away from what had been to what would be. They are an art movement of two and like their work or not, just that, in and of itself, is pretty impressive.
Follow the link to Flickr for my set of them, many photos of the 1950's gay cool and their work, paintings, sculptures and combines.