The Slip: The New York City Street That Changed American Art Forever by Prudence Peiffer:
Rauschenberg also took the ferry to Staten Island, a favorite boat destination for artists in the neighborhood, spending all day on the beach and finding “castoff clothes, pieces of wood or metal,” buckets of physical stuff that he incorporated into his collages. His studio was “full of things he brought back from Staten Island,” salvaged off the street, spotted in shopwindows, or bought at estate auctions. His fellow artist and partner Cy Twombly had a different take. He fashioned an ephemeral exhibition of plaster sculptures in the sand of a Staten Island beach.
After breaking up with Twombly, Rauschenberg met Jasper Johns in the late fall of 1953, and they soon became partners in life and work. To pay the bills, they began designing window displays at Tiffany’s and Bonwit Teller under the name “Matson Jones.” In 1955, Rauschenberg moved a block east, into the top-floor loft above Johns’s at 278 Pearl Street, a narrow brick building that had once been a factory for American flags—the subject of Johns’s most famous painting—and that was already condemned by the city. They lived there for three years until 278 Pearl was razed along with dozens of other buildings on their block to make room for car traffic once the Third Avenue El had been taken down. (In place of the buildings was “a new, narrow, triangular block filled mostly by a parking lot.”)