ROCI CUBA research guide

This guide provides links to a selection of digitized or online materials related specifically to ROCI CUBA.  Materials provided in this guide are for reference and research purposes only. For reproduction requests, email the archives.


For ROCI CUBA, Rauschenberg produced a series of paintings on aluminum and steel using vivid primary colors, evoking the pre-1959 American cars commonly seen in Havana. His works were exhibited in 1988 at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, the Castillo de la Fuerza and Casa de las Américas, and at the Galleria Haydee Santamaría, Havana. Countering criticism that his paintings did not celebrate the complete history of Cuba, Rauschenberg, during an open forum for students and the public, maintained, “To break down barriers, I think you need to see as an alien does—to get lost in the city, or in the country, to see things in Cuba that maybe you are blind to.” Due to the U.S. embargo on Cuba, works for the exhibition were required to pass through Mexico before arriving in Cuba. On the evening prior to the exhibition opening in February 1988, Cuban Premier Fidel Castro honored Rauschenberg with an official dinner at the Palacio de la Revolución, Havana.


This series of paintings on aluminum and steel was produced for ROCI CUBA and exhibited at the Museo Nacional, Casa de las Americas and Castillo de la Fuerza in Havana as part of the Rauschenberg Overseas Culture Interchange project. The bright paint colors resemble the pre-1959 American cars that were commonly seen in Havana.

View select ROCI CUBA artworks (RRF website)
View artwork checklist (PDF)  


Archival Documents 
Archival documents including invitations, itineraries, Rauschenberg's writings, and other materials related to Rauschenberg’s Venezuela trip and the ROCI CUBA exhibition. 

View select digitized archival materials (PDF)


Exhibition catalogue wrapper for the Rauschenberg Overseas Culture Interchange: ROCI CUBA exhibition, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Castillo de la Real Fuerza, and Casa de las Américas, Galería Haydée Santamaría, Havana, February 10 – April 3. Essay by Roberto Fernández Retamar. Wrapped around exhibition catalogue published for three ROCI exhibitions: Mexico, Chile, and Venezuela. Introductions by Sofía Imber and Nena Ossa, essay by José Donoso, previously published introduction by Robert R. Littman, previously published essay by Robert Hughes, previously published statement by Rauschenberg, and previously published poem by Octavio Paz.

View catalogue wrapper (PDF)
View catalogue (PDF)


Documentary Photographs 
Documentary photographs including installation images, travel snapshots and other images related to Rauschenberg’s trip and the ROCI CUBA exhibition. 

View select digitized documentary photographs (PDF)
View digitized snapshot contact sheets (PDF)


Oral Histories
Oral history transcripts of individuals involved in ROCI.

See ROCI Research Guide (webpage)


Press release and press clipping for ROCI CUBA.

View materials (PDF)
See ROCI Research Guide (webpage)


Rauschenberg's Photography
Contact and slide sheets for photographs taken by Rauschenberg during his travels in Cuba.

View black and white contact sheets (PDF)
View 35mm slide scans and slide pages (PDF)


Raw and edited footage of Rauschenberg’s ROCI-related travels and documentation of ROCI exhibitions.

See ROCI Research Guide (webpage)


Other Materials (not digitized)
The majority of archival materials related to ROCI are not yet digitized and must be accessed onsite at the Foundation. Comprehensive information on these collections is found on the Archives Collections webpage. To find listings on related materials once on this page, scroll to the desired collection, download the finding aid PDF, and keyword search for "ROCI."

Below is a list of recommended collections to search. Email archives for help or questions.

  • Audiovisual Collection
  • Charles Yoder records related to the Rauschenberg Studio
  • Donald Saff records on Rauschenberg Overseas Culture Interchange (ROCI)
  • Photograph Collection
  • Robert Rauschenberg papers
A large, colorful, four-panel artwork hangs on a stone wall, an arched doorway on the right leads to a room containing a white sculpture.

Installation view of the Rauschenberg Overseas Culture Interchange: ROCI CUBA exhibition at Castillo de la Real Fuerza, Havana, Cuba, February 1988. Photo: Unattributed.