Guy Denning’s Oil Painting Series on the Commedia

Guy Denning is an artist based out of Finistere, France since 2007. Beginning in 2011, he created a three part series of oil paintings based on Dante’s Divine Comedy. The image above is a painting called “ch’io ‘l vidi uomo di sangue e di crucci” from his first series, ‘Inferno‘ (2011).

“In 2011 he presented ‘Inferno’, the first part of his three-part series of oil paintings on Dante’s Commedia in Bologna; this was his first exhibition in Italy and the complete exhibition sold out.
In 2011, he presented the second part of the series in New York City for the exhibition ‘Purgatorio’. Originally drawing inspiration from Dante’s writings, his intention was not to recreate the poem in a visual or literal sense, but instead let the ‘Purgatorio’ series act as a framework for his own personal interpretation of the world following 9/11. As with the writing of Shakespeare, Denning finds a perpetual relevance in Dante’s work where the specifics of name, situation and place are easily adapted to the modern world; as if time moves on but the problems of humanity remain essentially the same. The events of September 11th and the emotional toll it took on the US identity was a critical element to this body of work. Poignantly enough, this exhibition was held in a ‘pop-up’ location just blocks from Ground Zero and on the 10th Anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.” [. . .]    —Widewalls Magazine, 2017

On exhibition set- “Inferno”

“This was the first part of my paintings based on Dante’s Divine Comedy. Inferno was exhibited at my first solo exhibition in Italy at MAGI’900 Museo, Bologna.”     –Guy Denning, on his site, January 19, 2017

On exhibition set- “Purgatorio”

“This was the second part of my paintings based on Dante’s Divine Comedy. Purgatorio was exhibited in Manhattan at a pop-up gallery space by Brooklynite Gallery on the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.”    –Guy Denning, on his site, January 30, 2017.

The image above to the right is a painting called “the cardinal virtue of media temperance” from the ‘Purgatorio‘ exhibition.

On exhibition set- “Paradiso”

“This was the third part of my paintings based on Dante’s Divine Comedy. Paradiso was exhibited at Signal Gallery in London.”    –Guy Denning, on his site, January 27, 2017.

The image below is a painting called “Looking for Beatrice” from the ‘Paradiso‘ exhibiton.

To view Denning’s full list of exhibitions, check out his website here

Robert Rauschenberg, 34 Illustrations for Dante’s Inferno (1958-1960)

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Canto II: The Descent (1958)
Solvent transfer drawing, pencil, gouache, and colored pencil on cut-and-pasted paper on paper.
© Robert Rauschenberg Foundation

Leah Dickerman: In the middle of 1958, Rauschenberg took on a project that would occupy him across the course of the next two and a half years. He wanted to create illustrations for Dante’s Inferno, a work that was written over 600 years before. And to work on these drawings, he set a series of rules for himself. He would only read one canto at a time, and then he’d make a drawing. He wouldn’t read ahead and so he could respond to it with a kind of freshness.

“Robert Rauschenberg: When I started the Dante illustrations, I had been working purely abstractly for so long, it was important for me to see whether I was working abstractly because I couldn’t work any other way, or, or whether I was doing it out of choice. So I really welcomed, insisted, on it—on the challenge of being restricted by a particular subject, which meant that I would have to be involved in symbolism. Well, I spent two and a half years deciding that yes, I could do that.

“Leah Dickerman: He developed an innovative technique for the drawings. It was a solvent transfer technique, choosing photo-based images from popular illustrated magazines, like Sports Illustrated, or Life and Time. He would soak the images with lighter fluid, flip them over, and rub on their back with an empty ballpoint pen. And that would transfer the image to a sheet of drawing paper. Then, he added touches of wash, and gouache, and crayon, and pencil. In this way, he was mixing images that were snipped from the flow of the contemporary media world with traditional fine art media. And he called them ‘Combine’ drawings.” — “Robert Rauschenberg: Among Friends” @moma.org

View the full series of 34 drawings online at MoMA or the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation.

Contributed by Daria Bernard-Balatti (University of Kansas, 2020)

Nine Circles of Hella-Peño

“Long, long ago, we promised ourselves that if Jack in the Box ever launched a new Munchie Meal featuring a Hella-Peño Burger, we’d make Ms. Morrow proud (she was, after all, Taft Union High School’s finest 11th-grade English teacher). Have we lost our minds? Probably, but the result is one of the greatest things in the history of things.

With no further delay, feast your eyes on (reverb voice) The 9 Circles of Hella-Peño!” –Robyn Reynolds for Struck on Behance, August 28, 2015.

To get a larger view of the artwork, click here.

You can check out more of Robyn Reynold’s work on Behance and her online portfolio.

You can check out more of Struck’s projects on Behance and the Struck website.

Go Nagai’s Dante Shinkyoku

dante-shinkyoku-cerbero-nagai-go-infernoDante Shinkyoku is a manga adaptation of Dante’s Inferno by Go Nagai. Nagai is faithful to the text, as he includes snippets of the original poem (in the vernacular). Though he chooses not to include the entire poem word for word, he shortens main ideas for the sake of comic style dialogue and transitions. He also includes an intro introducing the Guelphs and their struggle.” — Contributor Savannah Mikus

The full Dante Shinkyoku series (originally released in 1994-1995) is available to read online here.

Click here for a discussion of Go Nagai’s work in relation to three other Dante-inspired graphic novelists (article in Italian).

Contributed by Savannah Mikus (Florida State University, 2020)

Maru Ceballos’s Illustrations (2018)

Maru-Ceballos-Paradiso-IllustrationsMaru Ceballos, autora/ilustradora de los libros Los Idiotas y Muertos de Amor y de Miedo es diseñadora gráfica y desde hace un par de años ha trabajado sobre la Divina Comedia ilustrándola. ‘Si bien lo había intentado hace mucho, no lo había leído antes,’ confiesa Maru que arrancó con una edición en verso que después perdió, pero no fue hasta hace un par de años que retomó su lectura, esta vez con una edición en prosa. ‘Fue así que agarré el libro y empecé a leer. Pero no lo hice en función de ilustrarlo. En realidad me dieron ganas de ilustrarlo cuando lo empecé a leer. Me rompió tanto la cabeza el manejo de imágenes visuales que tiene el Dante que empecé a hacer esquemas, porque la obra es larga, compleja y muy simbólica. Cuando avancé en la lectura me di cuenta que ameritaba una ilustración más conciente y empecé de cero, prestando atención a los simbolismos.'” — Interview with Barbi Couto, “La Divina Comedia, un libro para descubrir y descubrirse,” La nueva Mañana (July 3, 2018)

See more of Ceballos’s work at her Instagram page: @maruceballos.

Passione Playing Cards: Avernum, Dite, Cocito

Stefano Protino led the team at Passione Playing Cards in their three-part Inferno-based playing card series. The series began with Avernum in 2015, and was followed up by two more decks, called “Inferno Dite” and “Inferno Cocito,” which were funded by a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2017. Both images below are from the Avernum deck.

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Carlos Alonso en el infierno (1968)

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“Seguramente pasará a la historia como uno de los grandes genios de la ilustración argentina. Dibujante de un refinamiento enorme, Carlos Alonso elevó el género a alturas que sirvieron de plataforma para muchos. Su arte alcanzó una difusión tal que en 1963 integró junto a Doré, Daumier y Picasso un cuarteto elegido para difundir una serie de postales con ilustraciones de El Quijote en la entonces Unión Soviética.

“Es que seis años antes Alonso había ilustrado El Quijote tras haber ganado un concurso que lanzó la editorial Emecé. Con todo, dentro de su vasta producción que incluye ilustraciones para el Martín Fierro, Mademoiselle Fifi de Guy de Maupassant, series del poemario de Neruda y El Matadero de Echeverría, para muchos su obra cumbre fue y sigue siendo la serie de la Divina Comedia que realizó en 1968 parte de la cual se exhibe ahora en el Museo Franklin Rawson de San Juan junto a una serie de relieves sobre el Dante que muestran visiones y perspectivas diferentes de un mismo autor.” […] — Clarín.com (May 16, 2014)

Campo di Marte, Florence (Italy), March 2018

Dante Illustrations by Robert Brinkerhoff

Robert Brinkerhoff, Professor of Illustration and Dean of Fine Arts at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), has embarked on what he calls “an ambitious undertaking, to say the least“: he proposes to illustrate the Comedy in 100 canto-by-canto drawings. The Inferno illustrations will be completed in December 2017, with Purgatorio and Paradiso projected for a future date. In January 2017, he began blogging the Inferno illustrations on his personal blog Brinkerhoff Brimmeth Over.

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Of the project, he writes, “Most of us read L’Inferno in high school or freshman lit classes in college, and its pulpy, phantasmal imagery appeals universally to youthful sensibilities. I last encountered L’Inferno (sans the rest of the poem) at age 19, my mind mired in newfound pleasures of freely available sex and beer and (finally, after 12 years of public school in which art class was shoved to the periphery) full-time dedication to art making. But in middle age I suspect the poem resonates more profoundly as it mirrors the preoccupations of people (like myself) whose paths in life are pondered with affection, regret, lost love, resentment and a desire to clarify, once and for all, the rest of the journey. Pick up Dante at age 50 and it will be a different literary experience. Spend many hours translating and drawing its tercets of terza rima and you’ll realize how much you have in common with a 14th century poet, despite the hundreds of years and linguistic traditions that separate you.” — Robert Brinkerhoff, “Introduction to Inferno: Una Selva Oscura,” Brinkerhoff Brimmeth Over, January 18, 2017

See his Divine Comedy images and follow the updates on his blog.

Fiona Hall’s Divine Comedy Polaroids (1988)

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Artist : Fiona Hall (Australia, b.1953)
Title : Inferno, canto V: The circle of the lustful (1988)
Medium Description: Polaroid photograph

“This photograph from the late 1980s is from a series of twelve Polaroid photographs relating directly to Dante’s Divine Comedy. Each work is a carefully constructed scene illustrating a particular canto. Technically the artist has made the most of the cumbersome 20 x 40 inch Polaroid camera, using it to render exquisite detail and to capture subtle colour. She cuts and moulds aluminium soft-drink cans to form menacing vegetation, human figures, creatures from beyond the grave, on the journey through Hell and Purgatory to Paradise. Hall photographs them amongst found objects set against backgrounds which she has painted.” —Art Gallery of New South Wales website

View the whole collection of photographs at the Art Galley of New South Wales site.