A few days ago, Noah Fleisher at Heritage Auction Galleries sent word that our 'cross-the-street neighbor would be auctioning off some 250 pieces that once belonged to the late Ted Pillsbury in its October fine-art auction. Just got 'round to browsing the virtual catalog when I saw this item of particular interest: a photo titled Robert Rauschenberg, Stoneleigh P, Dallas taken in 1974 by Burt Finger -- who, so happens, is the director of the Photographs Do Not Bend Gallery on Dragon Street.
Finger, reached at the gallery this afternoon, explained its origins: Back then, he was on special assignment for The Dallas Morning News, covering the "Poets of the City: New York and San Francisco" exhibition at the Dallas Museum of Art, the brainchild of Robert M. Murdock, the museum's first curator of contemporary art. Rauschenberg came to town for the event, and he and Finger spent three days together. "And we had a marvelous time," Finger says with a small laugh. "We just really bonded and had a great time."
Somehow -- and here, Finger doesn't elaborate -- he wound up shooting Rauschenberg in the men's room at the Stoneleigh P. What you see here is one of "two, maybe three that are OK" for family viewing, Finger says, again with that small laugh. He says he gave the photo to Pillsbury about 10 years ago, because he'd seen it in a stack of Finger's work and remarked how much he liked it. The only other person with a copy is Rauschenberg's son Christopher, a photographer living in the Pacific Northwest.
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Heritage guesstimates it'll go for around $200, $300. I asked Finger if he'd consider buying it back. He says no, he'd rather the photograph wind up in the hands of a fan -- of his work or Rauschenber's. Or maybe of the Stoneleigh's bathroom?