Cy + Roman Steps, I-V
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ajardini's picture

Sr. Editor

Robert Rauschenberg is probably best known for his paintings and “combines” (paintings with stuff stuck on them), but he also did some wicked photography.

This one is particularly interesting, and not just because of the composition, lighting, movement, yadda yadda yadda. The man in this photograph is the famous artist Cy Twombly, with whom Rauschenberg had a homosexual relationship and life-long friendship.

It starts innocently enough as a shot of the stairs with feet at the top. But as Twombly descends and you expect to see his face, the camera doesn’t move. The effect is that the last shot is a close-up of the crotch of Rauschenberg’s lover! Not so subtle, huh?

Now remember, in 1952 being gay was very hush hush. Even in the recent past, museums have been criticized for not addressing the homosexual themes in Rauschenberg’s body of work, as well as other gay artists from this time like Jasper Johns (who by the way, also dated our man of the hour.) Maybe this prejudice is why the picture wasn’t printed until 1997?

In any case, I think of the pic as a wonderful glimpse into the private life and mind of one of America’s greatest artists. Plus… how cool is Cy’s outfit??