Alberto Martini’s Illustrations of the Divine Comedy (1901-1944)

alberto-martinis-haunting-illustrations-of-dantes-divine-comedy“In 1901, Vittorio Alinari, head of Fratelli Alinari, the world’s oldest photographic firm, decided to publish a new illustrated edition of Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy.’ To do so, Alinari announced a competition for Italian artists: each competitor had to send illustrations of at least two cantos of the epic poem, which would result in one winner and a public exhibition of the drawings. Among the competitors were Alberto Zardo, Armando Spadini, Ernesto Bellandi, and Alberto Martini.” [. . .]    —Open Culture, November 6, 2013

“Divine Triptych” Digital Art

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“The Divine Comedy is an exploration of the relationship between literature, 3D, stereoscopy and hand-drawn illustration. Inspired by Dante Alighieri’s and Gustave Dore’s classic works, technical artist William Dube and I recreate Dante’s epic quest through Hell, Purgatory and Heaven. The work was made in Maya and  Mudbox.”    —Behance

Malbolge: an Esoteric Programming Language

malbolge-programming-language“Malbolge, invented by Ben Olmstead in 1998, is an esoteric programming language designed to be as difficult to program in as possible. The first ‘Hello, world!’ program written in it was produced by a Lisp program using a local beam search of the space of all possible programs. It is modeled as a virtual machine based on ternary digits.” [. . .]

“The language is named after ‘Malebolge,’ the eighth level of hell in Dante’s Inferno, which is reserved for perpetrators of fraud. The actual spelling ‘Malbolge’ is also used for the sixth hell in the Dungeons and Dragons roleplaying game.”    —Wikipedia

Buzzfeed’s 23 Circles of Hell That Should Exist for the Modern Age

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Buzzfeed has created a list of the “23 Circles of Hell That Should Exist for the Modern Age.” After Dante’s first nine circles, Adam Ellis has come up with thirteen more from the tenth circle (people who talk at the theater) to the twenty-third (Justin Bieber’s tattoo artist). See the complete list on Buzzfeed.

Contributed by Humberto González Chávez

Jennifer Moses, “In Search of Oxford”

in-search-of-oxford-bodleian-libraryJennifer Moses describes the Bodleian Library at Oxford: “. . .Certain key scenes in the Harry Potter franchise were filmed here, but if it’s more current stuff you’re after, go through the courtyard to the Radcliffe Camera, a classical circular building closed to the public but open to students, who these days are as likely to be studying their Facebook pages as their Dante, but whatever. There’s an almost endless amount of music, theater, dance, movies and lectures to go to in and around the university, as well as evensong at Christ Church Cathedral and various college chapels.”    –Jennifer Moses, “In Search of Oxford,” The New York Times, March 21, 2014

Brigid Pasulka, Sun and Other Stars (2014)

brigid-pasulka-sun-and-other-starsIn his Sunday Book Review of Brigid Pasulka’s novel The Sun and Other Stars, Mike Peed describes the main character Etto: “. . . Etto tries to numb his pain with sarcasm and self-effacement. He is misanthropic and fatalistic, frequently funny and sometimes annoying. He explains himself by quoting Dante: ‘I found myself in a dark wilderness.’ Who will be his Virgil? Yuri Fil, a Ukrainian-born Italian soccer star ensnared in a match-fixing scandal who has absconded to San Benedetto’s supposed seclusion, inveigles Etto into playing regular pickup games and even fashions him a green-and-white jersey, ‘for hope and faith. When you do not have ability.'”    –Mike Peed, The New York Times, March 21, 2014

Richard Rhodes, Absolute Power(2014)

thermonuclear-monarchy-elaine-scarryIn Richard Rhodes’ Sunday Book Review of Thermonuclear Monarchy by Elaine Scarry, he references Dante when envisioning the world after the explosion of nuclear weaponry: “Today there are still about 17,300 nuclear weapons in the world, most of them American or Russian, with a combined destructive force equivalent to 1,500 pounds of TNT for each and every man, woman and child on earth. The detonation of even a fraction of this stockpile could produce a worldwide Chernobyl, followed by a new ice age of dark starvation. Not even Dante imagined a fate so cruel for humankind.”    –Richard Rhodes, “Absolute Power,” The New York Times, March 21, 2014

Kevin Lincoln, “The Death of the Bargain Bin” (2014)

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“. . .We, as in the public, are beholden to these people to some extent, because like Dante descending into hell, we need a Virgil to guide us through the terrors that are YouTube and worse (on the Internet, there’s always worse). There has been a severe hamstringing of our agency not only as consumers of art, but also as patrons. What we’ve made up for in efficiency, we’ve lost in potential, and that loss of potential — the feeling that boundaries exist on the artistic world — is immensely dissatisfying. We are becoming increasingly tethered to these algorithms and these influencers, and for a reason: What we’ve created, with the advent of almost unlimited access, is as close as the human race has ever come to the elimination of scarcity. There is still a cap on the amount of movies and TV and music out there waiting for us. But like the edges of space, it is something we’re never going to see.” [. . .]    –Kevin Lincoln, The New York Times, March 14, 2014

Edmund White, Inside a Pearl (2014)

inside-a-pearl-edmund-white-2014Jay Parini describes Marie-Claude de Brunhoff, a main character in Edmund White’s memoir Inside a Pearl: My Years in Paris, as “a kind of fragile Virgil to White’s dewy-eyed Dante, leading him with gusto into the labyrinth of Parisian life.”    –Jay Parini, The New York Times, February 7, 2014

Alexander McQueen’s “Dante” Collection, 1996

alexander-mcqueen-dante-collection-1996“McQueen’s theatrical ‘Dante’ collection was staged at a church in Spitalfields in 1996. The show opened with organ music filling the church that was soon drowned out by gunfire. Models walked the runway looking wearing wore crucifix masks, denim splashed with bleach and lots of lace. McQueen commented that the collection was ‘not so much about death, but the awareness that it’s there’.”    —The Concept of Fashion, December 20, 2011

Some of the pieces from this 1996 collection have been included in the “Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore!” (2014) exhibition in London. To learn more about the London show, see “In London, Fashion History Up Close.”