Published to accompany a major traveling exhibition, this small volume presents the 34 drawings Rauschenberg made for each canto of Dante’s Inferno.
Between 1958 and 1960, Robert Rauschenberg made drawings for each of the thirtyfour cantos, or sections, of Dante’s fourteenth-century poem Inferno by using a novel technique to transfer photographic reproductions from magazines or newspapers onto paper. Acquired by The Museum of Modern Art soon after it was completed, the resulting work is his most sustained exercise in the medium of drawing and a testament to Rauschenberg’s desire to bring his experience of the contemporary world into his art. The drawings weave together meditations on public and private spheres, politics and inner life. Above all, they pay homage to creativity in dialogue: each drawing is a conversation with Dante across the centuries. This volume includes newly commissioned poems by Robin Coste Lewis and Kevin Young that offer contemporary responses to Rauschenberg’s celebrated series and an essay by MoMA curator Leah Dickerman that explores its making in depth.