Artist: Robert Rauschenberg, American (1925 - 2008)
Title: Narcissus, from ROCI USA (Wax Fire Works)
Medium: Acrylic, Enamel, and Fire Wax on Stainless Steel
Edition: 22; AP 4/5
Size: 96.75 in. x 72.75 in. (245.75 cm x 184.79 cm)
About: Robert Rauschenberg and Donald Saff formed one of contemporary art's most renowned collaborative teams in 1972 during their first project at Graphicstudio. Saff established his first prints and multiples workshop through the University of South Florida in 1968.
After a decade of working on projects through Graphicstudio the team branched out to more ambitious goals. In 1984, Rauschenberg establish ROCI (Rauschenberg Overseas Culture Interchange). This program came about through the artist's declared commitment to international peace during a time of political strife. Rauschenberg believed "one-to-one contact through art" would lead to an understanding between people over issues of culture. To fulfill his goal Rauschenberg and a team of craftsmen traveled to eleven countries to create projects with local organizations, artists, and artisans. Some oft he countries included Cuba, the Soviet Union and Malaysia. For the traveling projects, Saff coordinated each endeavor. Rauschenberg created paintings, sculpture, combines, multiples and prints under the umbrella of ROCI. For prints and multiples, Rauschenberg and Saff worked with a variety of workshops, such as ULAE (Sovie/American Array) and Gemini G.E.L. (Samarkand Stitches).
To execute the multiples for the United States portion of ROCI, Rauschenberg worked with Saff at Saff Tech Arts. The product of this collaboration was ROCI USA (Wax Fire Works). Rauschenberg began work on the series in 1990. The initial inspiration for the series evolved during the ROCI trip to Kuala Lumpur, where Rauschenberg was enthralled by the tin homes. Upon returning, they created a project using metal as the primary material. Instead of tin Rauschenberg selected highly-polished reflective steel for the USA project. He commented, "Somehow, because we are such a young country, it seems to pick up as many outside reflections as possible." On the steel, Rauschenberg and Saff experimented various ways to screenprint an image. Through this process they arrived at using hot wax on the metal to create an image. Ultimately, Rauschenberg named the series after the process. Upon finishing the USA (Wax Fire Works), the complete ROCI project was exhibited in 1991 at the National Gallery of Art in Washington. The entire edition was completed in 1993.