Rauschenberg's inventive contemporaneous interpretation of Dante's Inferno
Between 1958 and 1960, Robert Rauschenberg produced a series of 34 drawings, one for each Canto, or section, of Dante's poem The Inferno (1308-1321). Together they are a virtual encyclopedia of modern-day imagery, made by transferring photographic reproductions from magazines or newspapers onto the drawing surface. "I think a picture is more like the real world when it's made out of the real world," Rauschenberg said. With additional imagery in pencil, crayon, pastel and collage, the drawings reflect Rauschenberg's desire to infiltrate his art with the scenes and sounds of the surrounding world, a radical departure from the more transcendent ambitions of Abstract Expressionism.
Published in conjunction with the first major retrospective on Rauschenberg's career since the artist's death in 2008, this book presents the complete set of 34 drawings, with an introduction by curator Leah Dickerman and newly commissioned poetry from Kevin Young and Robin Coste Lewis, each reflecting on a selection of drawings and their corresponding Cantos.