Between 1958 and 1960, Robert Rauschenberg made drawings for each of the 34 cantos, or sections, of Dante’s 14th-century poem Inferno by using a novel technique to transfer photographic reproductions from magazines and newspapers onto paper. Acquired by The Museum of Modern Art soon after it was completed, the resulting work is now an icon in the collection and an enduring testament to Rauschenberg’s desire to bring his experience of the contemporary world into his art.
On the occasion of the exhibition Robert Rauschenberg: Among Friends, MoMA published Robert Rauschenberg: Thirty-Four Illustrations for Dante’s Inferno, featuring newly commissioned works by acclaimed poets Kevin Young and Robin Coste Lewis that respond to Rauschenberg’s celebrated series and offer a personal vision of hell. On September 12, Young and Coste Lewis will read a selection of these works in an evening of poetry and music curated by WQXR’s Terrance McKnight and performed by a host of extraordinary invited guests. An exploration of Rauschenberg’s conversation with Dante across the centuries, this special evening celebrates creativity in dialogue among friends.
Purchase of a ticket to this program includes free admission to the Museum through the run of Robert Rauschenberg: Among Friends, closing September 17.
Robin Coste Lewis is the Poet Laureate of Los Angeles. She is a Writer in Residence at the University of Southern California, and author of Voyage of the Sable Venus (2015), which won the National Book Award for Poetry.
Kevin Young is the director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the poetry editor at The New Yorker, and the author of 11 books of poetry and prose, most recently Blue Laws: Selected and Uncollected Poems 1995–2015 (2016), which was longlisted for the National Book Award.
Terrance McKnight is the evening host on WQXR. In 2010 McKnight was awarded an ASCAP Deems Taylor Radio Broadcast Award for All Ears with Terrance McKnight, a show about musical discovery that is broadcast on Saturday evenings.
This program is made possible by The Friends of Education of The Museum of Modern Art and MoMA’s Wallis Annenberg Fund for Innovation in Contemporary Art through the Annenberg Foundation.