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Robert Taplin (American, born 1950), III. Across the Dark Waters (The River Acheron), detail, 2007, wood, resin, plaster, and lights, 84 x 94 x 50 inches, lent courtesy of the artist. © Robert Taplin
Aug 22, 2019
throughOct 06, 2019

Robert Taplin: Everything Imagined is Real (After Dante)

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The exhibition is a series of nine sculptures, seven of which are dioramas, by American artist Robert Taplin (born 1950) inspired by the fourteenth-century classic, Dante’s Inferno. There are thirty-four cantos in the poem, and Taplin uses the first nine to follow Dante in his journey through the first three of the nine circles of hell, led by the Roman poet Virgil. Taplin creates his own versions of the story by infusing contemporary nuances, situations, and personal references into his art works. Also on view are five wall-hung reliefs from his recent series Here and There.

Everything Imagined is Real (After Dante) is a set of nine sculptures based on the first nine cantos of Dante’s Inferno. Taplin spent six months re-reading the Inferno, drawing, taking notes and planning. He settled on a set of nine short verses, one from each of the first nine cantos, to serve as a springboard for what would become the exhibition. The idea was to construct a story parallel to the one Dante tells, following the emotional and the narrative progress of the original, but without the theology and metaphysics.

The exhibition was curated by Richard Waller, Executive Director, University Museums, with the artist Robert Taplin. A catalogue is available for purchase at the Harnett Museum of Art.

Artist Lecture & Reception

"Into the Dark Wood" presented by Robert Taplin

Wed., Sept. 4, 6 - 7 p.m., followed by reception and viewing of the exhibition

Alice Jepson Theatre, Modlin Center for the Arts

Free, no tickets required

Artist Gallery Talk

Gallery Talk presented by Robert Taplin

Thur., Sept. 5, 1:30 - 2:15 p.m.

Meet inside the Harnett Museum of Art, Modlin Center for the Arts

Free, no tickets required

About the Artist

Born in 1950, Taplin earned a B.A. in Medieval Studies from Pomona College in Claremont, California in 1973.  By the mid-1970s, he was creating and exhibiting his artwork. He has shown his work in both solo and group exhibitions, executed public commissions, and received grants most notably from the Connecticut Commission on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. His artwork and his writing have been featured in numerous publications including Art in America, Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times.

Taplin describes his work in this statement, “I make representational work that attempts to reconcile the rationalist and the romantic strains within Modernism in a manner analogous to that of the great mid-century abstractionists such as David Smith and Mark Rothko using, however, an entirely different vocabulary. The sculptures present the image of a contemporary individual not as an emblem of the suffering of mankind or the destiny of the eternal soul but as a protagonist in the development of modern consciousness.”

"Into the Dark Wood"

Robert Taplin: Everything Imagined is Real (After Dante)