Against Humanism – “Mockumentality” and Monstrous Hybridity


THROUGH ME THE WAY INTO THE SUFFERING CITY,
THROUGH ME THE WAY TO THE ETERNAL PAIN,
THROUGH ME THE WAY THAT RUNS AMONG THE LOST.

JUSTICE URGED ON MY HIGH ARTIFICER;
MY MAKER WAS DIVINE AUTHORITY,
THE HIGHEST WISDOM, AND THE PRIMAL LOVE.

BEFORE ME NOTHING BUT ETERNAL THINGS
WERE MADE, AND I ENDURE ETERNALLY.
ABANDON EVERY HOPE, WHO ENTER HERE.

~

TREASURY OF THE CONSCIENCE OF MAN.
MASTERWORKS COLLECTED, PROTECTED AND
CELEBRATED COMMONLY. TIMELESS IN
CONCEPT THE MUSEUM AMASSES TO
CONCERTISE A MOMENT OF PRIDE
SERVING TO DEFEND THE DREAMS
AND IDEAL APOLITICALLY OF MANKIND
AWARE AND RESPONSIVE TO THE
CHANGES, NEEDS AND COMPLEXITIES
OF CURRENT LIFE WHILE KEEPING
HISTORY AND LOVE ALIVE.


~

Rauschenberg’s drawing for Canto 31 attempts, as do all of his Dante drawings, to “scan” the given canto, as the artist creates images suggested by the text, operating generally by association and analogy, disposing the images on the page working from top to bottom with the compositional instincts that are certainly Rauschenberg’s forte. In the upper left hand corner is the toweled image of a man lifted from a Sports Illustrated ad and used throughout the series of drawings to represent Dante as Everyman in a twentieth-century context. He has descended, presumably after his early morning shower, into a modern “Hell” (the recurrent “steps” image just below), which translates, in some of the drawings, Dante into John Kennedy and Virgil into Adlai Stevenson, and Dante’s various sinners, devils, and angels into astronauts, racecar drivers, riot police, umpires, etc.

— Eugene Paul Nassar, “Dante Illustration: Fidelity to Text and Tone as Criterion”

Robert Rauschenberg
Dante’s Inferno (1959-60), “The Titans”

The Gnostic God Ialdabaoth

Robert Rauschenberg
Monogram (1959)
Multi-media “Combine”

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