February 15, 2004

"The gay studies department, whatever that is." Robert Rauschenberg answers some questions from Deborah Solomon in today's NYT:
Aren't you having another show now at Yale?

Yes. I am not happy with it. It was organized by the gay studies department, whatever that is. It's not an approach that makes sense. I refused to give them permission to reproduce the works in a catalog.
Hmmm.... a little more info would be nice! There's this description:
"Robert Rauschenberg: Gifts to Terry Van Brunt'' features about 40 pieces that Rauschenberg gave as presents to his former lover, Terry Van Brunt. ... Jonathan Katz, an associate professor at Yale who launched the gay and lesbian studies program there in 2002, organized the exhibit.

"Rauschenberg himself does not want the work talked about in a gay context,'' Katz said. "But I am not responsible to the artist's wishes. I am responsible to the work.''

The collection includes "Bob's Face With Fly,'' a self-portrait that shows a fly on Rauschenberg's face, and "Terry's Briefcase Piece,'' a briefcase that was painted and collaged. Katz believes the exhibit is important because it shows how Rauschenberg's personal life has shaped his work.
Meanwhile, back in the NYT interview, Rauschenberg is presenting himself as impersonally as possible. He speaks of painting from photographs. Asked “What sort of photographs do you prefer?,” he asserts that he “likes photographs of anything uninteresting. Maybe just two doors on a wall.” Asked “What is so great about the ordinary anyhow?, he answers, “I find the quietness in the ordinary much more satisfying." Asked if at 78, he thinks about dying, he says “No. Not at all” and tells a hackneyed anecdote about someone else. Asked why he left New York in 1970 to go live by the ocean in Florida, he alludes to a feeling of responsibility about “everybody … leaving their spouses,” then says a fortuneteller told him “it wasn't my fault but that I should go to sunshine and water” and he “was pleased with that.” He gives as the secret to happiness “enjoy[ing] something simple, like just looking at the ocean.”

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