1930-05-13

The birthday of neo-dadaist painter JASPER JOHNS. He is best known for his Flag painting (1954-55). Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns were lovers during a six-year period of collaboration, and their relationship had a profound impact on their art. For years, the art world ignored this vital component of the Johns/Rauschenberg story, while the artists themselves kept mum on the matter.

But 2010’s exhibition Hide/Seek at the National Portrait Gallery broke the silence, openly exploring the artists’ sexuality as it intersected with their work—the first ever Gay-themed exhibition at a major American museum. 

MoMA, however, sent them back to the closet. Were MoMA a publicly funded museum, it might be concerned about offending its state patrons—that concern may sound very 1999, but the censorship issue reared its head again during Hide/Seek’s run, when Congressional Republicans threatened to cut the National Portrait Gallery’s funding over a Gay-themed, allegedly “blasphemous” work of art. (The museum quickly removed the offending works.) MoMA, however, is privately funded, and accepts no government cash. So why the dodge on Johns and Rauschenberg?