Canto 1: The Dark Wood of Error
Robert Rauschenberg ( American, 1925 - 2008 )
Universal Limited Art Editions Inc. ( American, 1957 )
In eighteen months, Robert Rauschenberg created thirty-four illustrations for Dante's Inferno, using the technique of transfer drawing. These thirty-four prints were created from the resultant images. Each illustration, one for each canto, is intended to be read vertically from upper left to lower right as an episodic narrative with sequential events flowing into one another. Characters in the allegory are represented by photographs - culled from mass media - of athletes, politicians, and astronauts, among others. By using recognizable imagery to relate the classic text of a quest for divine truth, Rauschenberg integrates the high and the low, the real and the illusory, the past and the present. Illustrating the great themes found in Dante's work through contemporary sources, Rauschenberg enables Dante's themes to be seen as vitally emblematic of life in the mid-20th century USA with all of its energy, anxiety, and intensity.
Anna Katherine Brodbeck, ed., TWO X TWO X TWENTY: Two Decades Supporting Contemporary Art at the Dallas Museum of Art (Dallas: Dallas Museum of Art), 2018, 34-35.