«Noi leggiavamo. . .»: Visual re-mediations of Canto 5 in the journal Arabeschi

In honor of Dantedì (March 25) 2021, the journal Arabeschi published a special issue dedicated to the visual re-mediations of the figures of Paolo and Francesca in Inferno 5. With an introduction by Gaetano Lalomia and Giovanna Rizzarelli, and featuring essays and virtual exhibits by Marcello Ciccuto, Laura Pasquini, and others, the special issue covers in depth the rich history of iconographic reception, across various visual media, of the story of Dante’s star-crossed lovers in the 20th and 21st centuries. At right is a screenshot of selected contributions to the issue.

Read the full issue (with image gallery) here.

Read the introduction by Lalomia and Rizzarelli here.

Jim Shaw, Donald and Melania Trump descending the escalator into the 9th circle of hell reserved for traitors frozen in a sea of ice (2020)

Jim Shaw’s silkscreen print Donald and Melania Trump descending the escalator into the 9th circle of hell reserved for traitors frozen in a sea of ice (2020) depicts the former US President and First Lady passing into the ninth circle, populated by members of the Trump inner circle: John Bolton, Michael Cohen, Omarosa Manigault, Anthony Scaramucci, Jeff Sessions, and others. The lake of Cocytus appears to have been displaced to the ground floor of a dilapidated American shopping mall.

Simon Lee Gallery describes Shaw’s collected works thus: “The practice of American artist Jim Shaw (b. 1952, Midland, Michigan) spans a wide range of artistic media and visual imagery. Since the 1970s, Shaw has mined the detritus of American culture, finding inspiration for his artworks in comic books, pulp novels, rock albums, protest posters, thrift store paintings – his ever-growing collection of found artworks has been the subject of its own exhibition on several occasions – and advertisements. At the same time, Shaw has consistently turned to his own life and, in particular, his unconscious, as a source of artistic creativity. Providing a blend of the personal, the commonplace and the uncanny, Shaw’s works frequently place in dialogue images of friends and family members with world events, pop culture and alternate realities. Often unfolding in long-term, narrative cycles, the works contains systems of cross-references and repetitions, which rework similar symbols and motifs, allowing a story-like thread to be perceived.”   –“Biography,” Simon Lee Gallery

See a discussion of Shaw’s exhibit Hope Against Hope, hosted by the Simon Lee Gallery (London) from October 20, 2020, to January 16, 2021, in The Art Newspaper.

Contributed by Deborah Parker (University of Virginia)

The Florentine: “Uffizi Pays Tribute To Dante With A Tree-Centric Exhibition”

uffizi-pays-tribute-to-dante-with-a-tree-centric-exhibition-the-florentine-2021“The City of Florence and the Uffizi Galleries are paying tribute to Dante Alighieri during the 700th anniversary year of the Florentine poet’s death with a maxi-tree installation and exhibition dedicated to Piedmontese artist Giuseppe Penone. Abete (Fir) will be inaugurated in Piazza della Signoria on March 25, the date when Dante is believed to have started writing his Divine Comedy and the date that the Italian government has dedicated to the writer as a symbol of Italian culture worldwide. The 22-metre-high tree by Penone is a preview of the Dante-centric contemporary art exhibition, which is scheduled to run at the Uffizi from June 1 to September 12. The title of the Uffizi show, Alberi In-Versi (Trees In-Verses), refers to a line in Dante’s Paradiso: ‘albero che vive della cima’ (18.28-30: ‘that tree / that thrives from summit down’). The verse pictures a place where the corporeal and conceptual worlds meet.” [. . .]    –Editorial Staff, The Florentine, March 10, 2021

Deirdre Bennett’s Oil Paintings

Deirdre Bennett is a contemporary mixed-media artist, several of whose works are inspired by Dante’s Inferno. To the left is pictured her oil painting Apathy and Non-Committal, which she describes thus on her site: “In Canto 3, Verse 55 Dante is confronted by the apathetic, cowards and non committals. They are drawn by a white banner, worms at their feet and forever tortured by hornets and wasps. I feel apathy is a terrible plague of our century.”   —Deirdre Bennett Fine Art

See other pieces from Deirdre Bennett—including her City of Dis, Paolo and Francesca, and the Malebranche—on the artist’s site here.

“Une illustration de La Divine Comédie longue de 97 mètres”

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“L’artiste turinois Enrico Mazzone a réalisé une œuvre, Rubedo, en hommage à Dante Alighieri. Il ne s’agit pas d’une œuvre au format traditionnel, mais de l’illustration de l’intégralité de La Divine Comédie, simulant la technique de la gravure lithographique, sur une feuille de papier de 97 mètres de long et de quatre mètres de haut. Une œuvre colossale, qui a débuté en 2015 en Finlande et s’est achevée à Ravenne, cinq années après, sur la mezzanine du Mercato Coperto (le marché couvert).

“Mais bientôt il sera possible de voir cet ouvrage depuis son propre ordinateur, des quatre coins du monde. Le Département du tourisme de la municipalité de Ravenne et le Laboratorio Aperto en ont en effet commandé la numérisation, qui a commencé le 6 février et se poursuivra jusqu’au 22 février 2021.” [. . .]    –Federica Malinverno, ActuaLitte, February 15, 2021.

Pinacoteca Dantesca

pinacoteca-dantesca-2021“Nel gennaio del 1994 quando riceve dal Prof. Corrado Gizzi l’allora Direttore dell’istituto di Studi e Ricerche ‘Casa di Dante in Abruzzo’ l’invito a realizzare un’ opera con soggetto dantesco a scelta dell’artista da destinare alla Pinacoteca F. Bellonzi , Sughi sta ancora lavorando ad un gruppo di dipinti dal Titolo Andare dove? Il nucleo principale del ciclo risale agli anni 1991-1992, Sughi a proposito scrive :

“’Sono gli anni dell’implosione dell’Unione Sovietica , la fine per molti di una speranza di un’ideologia che aveva attraversato tutta la prima metà e una parte cospicua della seconda metà del 900. Tanti avevano creduto in questa ideologia , in questa prima grande rivoluzione socialista , ma sappiamo tutte le rivoluzioni hanno il destino di essere tradite e alla fine gettano nello smarrimento , nella paura, nella lontananza da se stessi tutti gli uomini che ci avevano creduto. … Da questo presupposto è nato il ciclo Andare dove ? … poi si è dilatato e non riguardava più l’implosione, la caduta del Comunismo come nei primi dipinti ( L’uomo con le valigie, Addio alla casa rossa)ma il destino dell’uomo, e sono venuti questi quadri verdi con degli uomini nel paesaggio o che guardano da una terrazza o che sembrano persi nel contemplare, tutti intitolati Andare dove? Quasi che l’uomo si trovi in una situazione critica, di passaggio e cerchi la sua identità all’interno di un labirinto che in questi quadri è rappresentato dalla natura.’
in A.C. Quintavalle, Sughi, Catalogo della mostra al Complesso del Vittoriano, Roma, Skira editore, Milano 2007, pag. 190.

“Al centro della tela in piedi la figura di Dante ferma, quasi restia alla mano tesa, appena accennata di Virgilio , che gli si offre d’innanzi, a ragione della forte dominante nel canto I dell’Inferno del tema dello smarrimento, del dubbio e della paura si inserisce perfettamente,senza forzatura alcuna , nella discorso pittorico che Sughi allora stava svolgendo.” [. . .]    –Alberto Sughi, Arte32.

“Why Dante, 700 years later, is still a hell of a journey,” Hindustani Times

A brief overview of Dante’s influence and impact on the arts and on people all over the world, and notes our own Dante Today:

[…] “The poem’s influences are so wide and far-ranging that three American universities have collaborated on a website to keep track of them all. Since 2006, Dante Today has been archiving every present-day reference to the poem, through “sightings” and “citings”. They’re pretty thorough, even adding a hot-sauce brand called 10th Circle to their archive last month.” […]    –Rachel Lopez, Hindustani Times, February 20, 2021

Theo Wujcik’s “Gates of Hell” (1987)

“One of Tampa Bay’s best-known artists, Theo Wujcik (1936-2014), spent a decade creating a series drawn from the dark and profound literary classic, Dante’s Inferno. Now, those extraordinary paintings are the theme for Theo Wujcik: Cantos, a special exhibition organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg. This exhibition celebrates the work of Theo Wujcik (1936–2014), with a focus on the literary references in his work. A fixture of the Ybor City art scene, Wujcik was an accomplished master printer and painter whose expansive practice engaged deeply with art historical tradition and the global contemporary art world.

“This exhibition will premiere the Museum’s newest accession of Wujcik’s work, the diptych Gates of Hell (1987), which complements Canto II (1997), also in the collection. Both of these paintings are based on Italian poet Dante Alighieri’s (1265–1321) Inferno, the first part of the epic poem Divine Comedy. Also featured will be selections from the artist’s personal notebooks, collage studies, and a number of select loans.”  —Museum of Fine Arts St. Petersburg, 2019

Learn more about Theo Wujcik’s exhibition here.

“Dante (Quinto Canto),” Painting by Mihail Ivanov

“This is the fifth song in the Divine Comedy, where Dante Alighieri ventures through the circles of hell, a lonely soul separates itself from the others and presents herself to the author, telling him her sad life story.”   —SAATCHI ART

Jacek Lipowczan, “Dante Cycle”

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Dante’s Way to Inferno

“Jacek Lipowczan signs his paintings as ‘JALI’. Jacek Lipowczan born in September 1951 in South Poland, studied on the Academy of  Fine Arts in Cracow and graduated in 1976 obtaining his Master of Art Degree in the Grafic Design in the atelier of Professor M. Wejman. His experience as junior scene designer in the team of Polish film Director Kazimierz Kutz introduced him to the works and projects of Andrzej Majewski. The fairy tale imaginative works of this Artist strongly influenced  Jacek Lipowczan’s future creativity and his artistic imagination.” [. . .]    –Jacek Lipowczan, Jacek Lipowczan Magical Dreams, 2018

The paintings from JaLi’s “Dante Cycle,” like the two images featured here, can be viewed in the virtual gallery on his website (2008 and 2009).

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Passing Through—Dante Cycle