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Experimentation with Robert Rauschenberg
downloadDescription:

The two-story cathedral at the rear of 381 Lafayette Street can be seen from the parking garage on the corner of Lafayette and Great Jones by peering between layers of stacked cars. This address was a Catholic orphanage before Robert Rauschenberg bought it in 1963, envisioning it as a combination...

downloadDescription:

The two-story cathedral at the rear of 381 Lafayette Street can be seen from the parking garage on the corner of Lafayette and Great Jones by peering between layers of stacked cars. This address was a Catholic orphanage before Robert Rauschenberg bought it in 1963, envisioning it as a combination performance space, multimedia studio, political refuge and personal home. This location, an improvement from the dingy Fulton Street quarters he shared with lover-collaborator Jasper Johns during the 1950s, reflects the long-awaited commercial success Rauschenberg came to enjoy here.

The spaciousness of 381 Lafayette allowed it to house the collaborative efforts, especially dance that Rauschenberg was most interested in at that time. One event called 9 Evenings, was a collaborative effort between Rauschenberg, the musician John Cafe, and a team of engineers, which culminated in a series of happenings in 1966. The concept for 9 Evenings had roots in 1950s optimism, its faith that science and progress belonged in the aesthetic experience. The engineers, mostly from the suburbs, were excited about the project but wary, at first, of the artists. Eventually, though, the famously charming Rauschenberg won them over and they began spending most nights at 381 Lafayette. A relative commercial success, the critical reaction to the product was mixed. The New York Times said of 9 Evenings, "If American engineers and technologists participating in the performance were typical of their profession, the Russians are sure to be first on the moon." Rauschenberg and John Cage had been more interested in the collaborative process than the product anyway.

Robert Rauschenberg House, New York