The late 1960s home of artist Robert Rauschenberg, newly renovated and staffed with a team of archivists, curators, and managers, is now open by appointment to researchers, the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation announced Monday.
The building now houses the Foundation’s offices, as well as exhibition galleries and an archive. Those attending exhibitions can find examples of Rauschenberg’s and others’ work on display. There are no residential areas accessible to visitors, but his kitchen is visitable.
Researchers can request an appointment to carry out research at the foundation’s archives at the house, though appointments are “mostly limited to students and professionals,” a spokesperson for the foundation told Hyperallergic in a report Monday.
Rauschenberg purchased the five-story building at 381 Lafayette Street in 1965. Situated between Manhattan’s NoHo and SoHo neighborhoods, it was originally constructed as a townhouse; in the early 1800s it became the administrative offices for an adjacent orphanage, and later, a school. Though the school relocated to Staten Island in 1929, the convent and offices stayed.
After Rauschenberg purchased the building, he spent a year renovating it, removing religious fixtures such as an altar from the chapel—though it still boasts three iconic Gothic lancet windows. At that time, SoHo was an up-and-coming neighborhood for New York artists and galleries, and Rauschenberg regularly exhibited art and held parties.
Rauschenberg is perhaps best known for his “Combines” series of the 1950s and ’60s: paintings and collages into which he incorporated ready-made materials like taxidermy animals, fans, and pillows. Before he controversially won the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale in 1964, he had collaborated with painters such as Jasper Johns and Cy Twombly, as well as dancer Merce Cunningham, who used some of Rauschenberg’s work as stage backdrops.
The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation also maintains a studio space that the artist had in Captiva, Florida, where he moved in 1970. It is also at work on a catalogue raisonné that is expected to take 15 to 20 years to complete. The first volume is slated to be published in 2025.