Beginning in 1958, Rauschenberg embarked on a series of illustrations representing each canto of Dante’s Inferno. He invented a way of making transfers of magazine images using lighter fluid, which he then drew over with pencil and watercolour. This work relates to Dante’s journey through the eighth circle of hell, where sowers of discord are attacked by a sword- wielding demon.
Canto XXVIII: Circle Eight, Bolgia 9, The Sowers of Discord: The Sowers of Religious and Political Discord Between Kinsmen from the series Thirty-Four Illustrations for Dante's Inferno
36.8 x 29.2 cm
Date of work
Original: Solvent transfer with pencil, watercolor, gouache, and colored pencil on paper 36.8 x 29.2 cm The Museum of Modern Art, Given anonymously © Robert Rauschenberg Foundation
One of the most influential figures of twentieth-century art, Robert Rauschenberg was a pioneering artist who ultimately challenged perceptions of what art could be. Born in Texas in 1925 he later moved to New York, where he created many of his best-known works. Endlessly curious and inventive, his work ranged from painting and sculpture to performance and dance. His refusal to accept existing boundaries of what was considered art led him to continually experiment with new techniques, from innovative printing methods to incorporating found objects and detritus in his works. This radical approach prefigured pop art and inspired generations of conceptual artists in the decades that followed.