Painter Talking

Painter Talking

In 1972 Robert Rauschenberg sat on a ladder, drink in hand (and probably quite a few already downed) to talk about painting. The ladder was in his studio, the chapel of a former orphanage in a place not yet called Noho.

Just knowing that it might still exist, and living nearby in the 1990?s, I was thrilled when I thought I might have found it; I parked my car in a Lafayette Street lot, spying a bit of the gothic windows. Turns out I was right.

When I visited Christy MacLear at the Rauschenberg Foundation last month I had forgotten about it, but it knocked me out when she opened the door and we sauntered into his studio. Exactly as he had left it, but no longer in black and white.

It?s a beautiful space with even more light than when Rauschenberg drawled to Emile de Antonio, as the buildings behind were removed to make?a parking lot.

I met Rauschenberg only once (here it comes) at the White House new year?s eve celebration in 2000. We talked about his studio near Cooper Union, where Carin went to school at precisely the time of the film. In an evening of bold face names (including, of course, Bill and Hill) Rauschenberg may have been the only genius. And it felt electric to stand in his studio, even 5 years after he permanently departed it.