Rauschenberg was gay? How was anyone to know?

Robert Rauschenberg Bed 1955 mixed mediums 75" x 32" x 8"

Yes, the great man was queer. I had thought I made it pretty clear in my own post on March 14, but today I note that Tyler Green's Modern Art Notes has gone and shoved it down the prissy throats of both members of the "regular" media and the art world's own sophisticated pundits. Almost all of them seem not to have ever noticed, or, much more likely, were convinced it was too shameful a condition with which they could risk frightening the horses - or asses.

Green's post, "Hetero-normalizing Robert Rauschenberg", is totally on target, and bursting with links to his references and sources (there's even a link to his links on the subject).

Bravo, Tyler!

[image from MoMA]

That's funny James; in England at Bath Art School in 1993 one of the first things I learnt about Rauschenberg was that he was gay. Or how else would you interpret the ram through the tire?

Admittedly it could have been made by, say, a straight woman, and I wonder what impact that change of gender/inclination of the initiator would have had on the interpretation of the work, but still... it raises questions as to how close the maker is to his/her work (i think pretty close) the above seems pretty obvious to me. Guess my education was better than I previously estimated..all the best!

K, as the child of loving and caring but very "practical" parents in a wholesome mid-century Midwest, an arts education was a non-starter, but throughout my life I've never been able to get enough of the arts, in any form.

But since I was an American, the victim of an incredibly prudish and childish society, I never knew how to interpret Rauschenberg's "Monogram". I was never told that any artist might be gay, until I found queer artist friends and much later, a queer media. Until two days ago when I read Jerry Saltz's 2006 piece, "Our Picasso?", to which I linked at the bottom of this post, I had no idea what the sacrificial ram inside the tire meant; no notes that I ever saw said anything that was useful.

I can't speak to American art schools, but in studying at Bath you at least seem to have missed the prigs solidly in charge outside their doors.

Not for long though James. Not for long.

I totally disagree with this obsession with Rauschenberg’s sexuality. It actually figures only marginally in his work and I think it’s safe to say the vast majority his audience did not share his sexual preferences and frankly did not care. They do not hide from a fairly trivial fact – they simply address the work the man presented. And the work is about far larger themes!

If Tyler Green had anything more than the most superficial understanding or interest in art he wouldn’t have to scrounge around in people’s private lives trying to find meaning in a work, harping on financial arrangements, because they’re the only kind that make sense to him. Green has the soul of an accountant and the instincts of a shallow gossip. Neither belong in the discourse on art.

Rauschenberg was a mystic, a political activist, a shrewd entrepreneur and manipulator, a performer, a painter and Texan. His contribution was not as a great homosexual, but as a great artist who happened to be homosexual, amongst many other things (actually at one stage he was married and had a son, so even his sexuality was hardly exclusive).

I don't think this post is about an obsession whether someone was gay or not. Is it?

It has to do with the way it is being reported in the media, and as such the post is about the media and about which stories are being told.

well, there are three options, in my mind. you can: a) hide his sexual orientation and deny his identity as a person and what effects it has on his life and art, b) just let it be known through general knowledge of his partners and life, and not use it as a plug for his artwork or c) make an example of it and make that the staple for interpreting his work. if you can't see the way i'm leaning on this opinion, my answer is: b).
i understand rauschenberg's sentiment when he said that he didn't want to be known as the 'gay artist'. he just wanted to be an artist. he wants his ART to be known. courageous man, for sticking to his principles, his art, and not boxing himself in.

I talked to Rachel Rosenthal a personal friend of Robert Rauschenberg. I am bisexual, and she told me that he continued to have sexual relationship eith his x wife even after his divorce and while he was with Jasper Johns. She said he never let go of his wife. The problem is "Gay" culture is as equally disrespectful as "Straight" culture. Rauschenberg probably never wanted to be known as gay because it would have Erased his enduring love for his wife. He willed his estate to his xwife, his male partner, his child and a nephew.