UCC Dante Lecture Series

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventPublic lecture/debate/seminar


Rauschenberg/Dante: Drawing a Modern Inferno

In 1958 the American artist Robert Rauschenberg initiated an ambitious new project: to make one drawing for each of the 34 cantos of Dante's Inferno. It took the artist two and a half years to complete the illustrations and from the time of their first public presentation in New York at the end of 1960 they have been lauded as one of his most significant achievements. Rauschenberg employed a technique of his own invention to make the drawings: solvent transfer. Here, images culled from the contemporary print media were first soaked in lighter fuel and then rubbed on their reverse side, forcing the ink from the clipping onto the drawn sheet. The result was a flickering, striated, semi-present image, at once the residue of everyday vernacular and advertising imagery and at the same time an altered analogue for the content of Dante’s epic. Exploring specific drawings within this complex suite, this talk will ask: what vision of contemporary America do Rauschenberg’s Inferno illustrations present? What is at stake in the artist’s selection of source material and his decisions regarding its placement and treatment? And how does the project relate to the conventions of drawing at mid-century in New York?
Period23 Feb 2016
Event typePublic lecture/seminar/debate
LocationCork, Ireland
Degree of RecognitionNational


  • Dante
  • Rauschenberg
  • Drawing
  • Inferno