Artwork Detail

View of Robert Rauschenberg's Cy + Roman Steps (III) with inscription and signature

Part of Rauschenberg Research Project Home

  • View of Robert Rauschenbergs <em>Cy + Roman Steps (III)</em> with inscription and signature

    View of Robert Rauschenberg’s Cy + Roman Steps (III) (1952) with inscription and signature visible below the photograph

  • Installation view of Robert Rauschenberg's Cy + Roman Steps (I–V), SFMOMA, 2010

    Installation view of Robert Rauschenberg’s Cy + Roman Steps (I–V) (1952) in 75 Years of Looking Forward: The Anniversary Show, SFMOMA, December 19, 2009–January 16, 2011

  • View of Robert Rauschenberg's Cy + Roman Steps (I) with inscription and signature

    View of Robert Rauschenberg’s Cy + Roman Steps (I) (1952) with inscription and signature visible below the photograph

  • View of Robert Rauschenberg's Cy + Roman Steps (II) with inscription and signature

    View of Robert Rauschenberg’s Cy + Roman Steps (II) (1952) with inscription and signature visible below the photograph

  • View of Robert Rauschenberg's Cy + Roman Steps (III) with inscription and signature

    View of Robert Rauschenberg’s Cy + Roman Steps (III) (1952) with inscription and signature visible below the photograph

  • View of Robert Rauschenberg's Cy + Roman Steps (IV) with inscription and signature

    View of Robert Rauschenberg’s Cy + Roman Steps (IV) (1952) with inscription and signature visible below the photograph

  • View of Robert Rauschenberg's Cy + Roman Steps (V) with inscription and signature

    View of Robert Rauschenberg’s Cy + Roman Steps (V) (1952) with inscription and signature visible below the photograph

  • Cy + Roman Steps (I-V)

    Robert Rauschenberg, Cy + Roman Steps (I-V), Thu Jan 03 00:00:00 PST 2013; suite of five gelatin silver prints, 20 in. x 80 in. (50.8 cm x 203.2 cm); Purchase through a gift of Phyllis Wattis; © Robert Rauschenberg Foundation / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY; photo: Ben Blackwell


Cy + Roman Steps (I–V) is a single artwork comprising a sequence of five photographs, each of which is individually signed, inscribed, and numbered. In the inscription seen here, the Roman numeral III in parentheses following the title indicates that this is the third of the five images that make up the artwork. The “#4” following the date denotes that this image is part of the fourth set printed in a planned edition of 50. There are five known sets of Cy + Roman Steps (I–V); all of them were printed after 1981. SFMOMA’s set is believed to have been made in 1997 for exhibition in the artist’s retrospective later that year. Notably, Cy Twombly’s shadow is not visible in this photograph, suggesting that Rauschenberg’s camera position caused his subject’s shadow to disappear into the vertical banks of the staircase of the Basilica di Santa Maria in Aracoeli, which includes intermittent wide landings. The appearance and disappearance of the shadow from photograph to photograph in Cy + Roman Steps (I–V) creates a destabilizing rhythm within the sequence and lends the work an enigmatic quality.