Transferring Dante : Robert Rauschenberg's thirty-four illustrations for the "Inferno"

  • In December 1960 the Leo Castelli Gallery in New York displayed a series of thirty-four illustrations of the "Inferno" by the avant-garde artist Robert Rauschenberg. Rauschenberg had developed this project over the previous two years, working on it almost exclusively, first in New York City, and then in an isolated storage room in Treasure Island, Florida, where he retreated to concentrate on the last half of the cycle. [...] Whatever the spark that set the project in motion, we find Rauschenberg's reply to his detractors here: the refuse that crowded his "Combines" was no joke, nor was it there to undermine or deride high art in the spirit of Dada. With his collection of things, he was composing a new language, turning fragments - the ruins of his environment and culture - into emblems. And what is an emblem if not a composite figure, an assemblage of diverse fragments into a new unity and order? As such, it is an elusive visual allegory whose pictorial image tends to lose its consistency and become a sign open to interpretations; in it, the different narratives springing from its multiple nature come together and give birth to a polysemic language. It is with this language, abstract and referential at the same time, that Rauschenberg translates Dante's poem and makes it new by linking it to something in existence, present in the viewer’s reality of mechanically reproduced images. By choosing 'to ennoble the ordinary', he, perhaps unconsciously, became the hermeneutist of his age and gave durability to what was trivial and precarious.

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Author:Antonella Francini
Parent Title (English):Metamorphosing Dante : appropriations, manipulations, and rewritings in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries / ed. by Manuele Gragnolati, Fabio Camilletti and Fabian Lampart ; Cultural Inquiry ; 2
Publisher:Turia + Kant
Place of publication:Wien
Document Type:Part of a Book
Date of Publication (online):2019/10/23
Year of first Publication:2011
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2019/11/19
Tag:Aesthetics; American art; Drawing; Illustration of books; Productive reception
GND Keyword:Dante Alighieri; Inferno; Rezeption; Rauschenberg, Robert; Adaption <Literatur>; Illustration; Zeichnung; Avantgarde
Page Number:15
First Page:323
Last Page:337
8 Literatur / 80 Literatur, Rhetorik, Literaturwissenschaft / 800 Literatur und Rhetorik
Sammlungen:CompaRe | Allgemeine und Vergleichende Literaturwissenschaft
CompaRe | Allgemeine und Vergleichende Literaturwissenschaft / ICI Berlin
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung-Weitergabe unter gleichen Bedingungen