Robert Rauschenberg and the ROCI Artworks
Speaker: Don Saff, PhD, Artistic Director of ROCI, Director of Saff Tech Arts & former Senior Curator of Prints and Drawings at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation
January 29, 6 p.m.
As one of America’s most iconic 20thcentury artists, Rauschenberg (1925 – 2008) was a painter and graphic artist whose early works anticipated the Pop Art movement. He is best known for his Combines of the 1950s, in which nontraditional materials and objects were employed in innovative combinations. Robert Rauschenberg: ROCI Works from the National Gallery of Art is the first exhibition of ROCI artworks in Maryland. The Rauschenberg Overseas Culture Interchange (ROCI, pronounced “Rocky,” the name of the artist’s pet turtle) was established in 1985 to enable and support Rauschenberg’s collaborations with artisans and workshops abroad and to promote world peace and understanding. Over a six-year period, Rauschenberg created works in host countries all over the world to be included in exhibitions in each country and donated a work of art to each location. The various exhibition catalogues included contributions by local poets, writers, and journalists.
Announced at the United Nations in December 1984, ROCI involved the artist making and presenting work while traveling with a team of assistants through 11 countries, including China, Tibet, the U.S.S.R. and former East Germany, as a way to foster cross-cultural dialogue. Some works remained in their original sites as gifts and others traveled with the ROCI team to be shared with future participants. Rauschenberg personally funded the project, which concluded with the exhibition Rauschenberg Overseas Culture Interchange of over 125 works at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, in 1991, attracting 414,000 visitors.