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Nov 28
17:00 - 19:00
The Politics of Rauschenberg's Dante Illustrations (1958-60)
Histories: Art Film & Theatre Research Cluster
Dr Ed Krcma (University of East Anglia)

This paper explores Robert Rauschenberg's celebrated series of 34 illustrations for Dante's Inferno, begun in 1958 and first exhibited at the Leo Castelli Gallery, New York, in December 1960. Using the low-fi method of solvent transfer, which involved clipping images from the contemporary mass media, soaking them in lighter fluid, and rubbing their backs with an old ballpoint pen, Rauschenberg made over Dante's 14th century epic, itself written in the Tuscan vernacular, into the language of modern-day American visual culture. What are the political implications of Rauschenberg's recasting of Dante's Hell in this way? In what ways do the heightened tensions of the Cold War play out in the suite, for example? And what are the limitations and dangers of seeking out statements of Rauschenberg's politics in his choice of imagery?


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