“The Most Harrowing Paintings of Hell Inspired by Dante’s Inferno

“Dante Alighieri’s depiction of the afterlife has inspired generations of readers since the Divine Comedy was first published in 1472. In the 14,233 verses of this poem, Dante envisions a trip to the afterlife, guided first by the Roman poet Virgil, who leads him through Hell and Purgatory, and then by his beloved Beatrice, who leads him through Paradise. His detail-rich descriptions of Hell, envisioned as nine concentric circles containing souls of those “who have rejected spiritual values by yielding to bestial appetites or violence, or by perverting their human intellect to fraud or malice against their fellowmen,” have inspired artists for the last five centuries. Here are some of the most poignant visualizations of Dante’s Inferno.

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Stradanus, Canto VIII (1587-1588)

Flemish painter Jan van der Straet, known by his Italian name ‘Stradanus,’ completed a series of illustrations of the Divine Comedy between 1587 and 1588, currently preserved at the Laurentian Library in Florence. This illustration refers to Canto VIII, where the wrathful and slothful are punished. Stradanus combines elements of Italian Mannerism, such as painstaking attention to detail, with distinctive Flemish traits like the physiognomy of the demonic figure steering Dante’s boat, who shows a deeply harrowing expression.”    –V. M. Traverso, Aleteia, July 17, 2020

“The Divine Comedy of The House That Jack Built

“After being banned from the Cannes Film Festival and finishing his Depression Trilogy, Lars von Trier returned from a five-year hiatus with The House That Jack Built. The film follows a sadistic, failed architect named Jack (Matt Dillon) who recalls his murders to the ancient Roman poet Virgil (Bruno Ganz), as the pair make their way through Hell. To Virgil’s disgust, Jack sees these incidents as misunderstood works of art.

When the film premiered at Cannes, it prompted a one-hundred-person walkout and a ten-minute standing ovation. While the festival is known for its dramatic receptions, The House That Jack Built is, indeed, a polarizing film. It’s is either the nail in the coffin for von Trier’s career or the darkest comedy of 2018. Depends on who you ask.
As Ryan Hollinger puts it in the video essay belowThe House That Jack Built is what you get when you give a serial killer two and a half hours to gush about how great they are. On paper that sounds like a recipe for disaster. But on the screen, the iffy conceit materializes as a mocking character study of the kind of ego-trip that thinks it’s so charming and clever that it can get away anything.
Ultimately, The House that Jack Built is a film that turns a monster into a punchline. And if you let go of seriousness and pretension, the film reveals itself as an absurd, self-effacing, and divinely funny comedy.”    –Meg Shields, Film School Rejects, July 25, 2020
Check out our original post on The House that Jack Built (2018) here.

Danielle Callegari and Akash Kumar on Par. 19 for “Canto per Canto”

“Dante has just reached the heaven of Jupiter when the shape of an eagle, made by the gathering souls, lights up before his eyes. To the eagle Dante poses a question he had thought about for a long time: how can somebody who is utterly virtuous be excluded and condemned for having been born out of the boundaries of Christianity? Dante’s doubt concerning God’s inscrutable justice is followed by a reflection on the necessity for earthly rulers to act justly and by an attack against those who do not. While considering the issue of justice in Paradiso 19, Danielle Callegari and Akash Kumar explore the relevance of the canto to our time and its pressing questions. As human beings, across time and space, we must ask ourselves what is the extent of our communities, of our forms of justice, and of our responsibilities. Dante appears to suggest that what binds us is not an answer to such questions, but the posing of the questions itself. The message he appears to convey in this canto is the same our times are giving us: ‘we all fall short, but by engaging we do the work that is to be done’.” – Leonardo Chiarantini

Watch or listen to the video “Paradiso 19: Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” here.

Canto per Canto: Conversations with Dante in Our Time is a collaborative initiative between New York University’s Department of Italian Studies and Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò, and the Dante Society of America. The aim is to produce podcast conversations about all 100 cantos of the Divine Comedy, to be completed within the seventh centenary of Dante’s death in 2021.

 

Paola Rodriguez and Raymond Capra on Purg. 1 for “Canto per Canto”

“Paola M. Rodriguez and Raymond Capra discuss Dante’s arrival on the island of Purgatory. Although this canto explores themes of liminality, it is central to Dante’s journey. This is the moment when Dante encounters Cato, the enigmatic figure who died by suicide and who now watches over the souls on the shores of Purgatory. Join us as Rodriguez and Capra investigate this innovative representation of the renowned Roman and the significance of the reed belt Virgil gives Dante, as he begins his journey to the top of Mount Purgatory.” – Kate Travers

Listen to/watch “Purgatorio 1: Cato the wise poet/prophet and the humble reed of exegesis” here.

Canto per Canto: Conversations with Dante in Our Time is a collaborative initiative between New York University’s Department of Italian Studies and Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò, and the Dante Society of America. The aim is to produce podcast conversations about all 100 cantos of the Divine Comedy, to be completed within the seventh centenary of Dante’s death in 2021.

Dan Christian and Alex DeWeese on Inf. 2 for “Canto per Canto”

“Something extraordinary about Dante is his ability to talk to anyone. In different languages, at different times, in different contexts, we are all here because Dante has put us in conversation with one another. This specific conversation on Inferno 2 celebrates the encounter of two generations: a former high school teacher, Dan Christian, and a former student of his, Alex DeWeese, whom Dante has once again reunited. Let Dante continue to create networks, let Dante work his magic over and over again: buona visione!” – Maria Zilla

Listen to/watch “Inferno 2: ‘A Thundering Velvet Hand: Virgil’s Teaching Strategy” here.

Canto per Canto: Conversations with Dante in Our Time is a collaborative initiative between New York University’s Department of Italian Studies and Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò, and the Dante Society of America. The aim is to produce podcast conversations about all 100 cantos of the Divine Comedy, to be completed within the seventh centenary of Dante’s death in 2021.

The Dante Alighieri Diploma (2020/21)

“To celebrate the genius of Dante Alighieri, experimenter of the language and recall his gaze always turned beyond the borders, the sections of Ravenna, Florence and Verona of the Italian Radio Amateurs Association (ARI), organize, as part of the celebrations for the 700th anniversary of the death, the ‘Dante Alighieri Diploma.’

“Participation in the diploma is open to all radio amateurs and SWLs in the world. The diploma will be awarded to radio amateurs or SWL who will connect or activate ‘Dante places.’
Dante places are defined as:

  • Places related to the life of the poet (birth, residence, death, travel)
  • Places expressly mentioned in the Divine Comedy or in other Dante compositions
  • Places not explicitly mentioned, but whose identification is possible through periphrases or adjectives and which are normally accepted by Dante’s criticism.

“The Dante Places were identified using the database developed by Prof. Andrea Gazzoni of Pennsylvania University who surveyed over 300 geographic references in the Divine Comedy between cities, regions, rivers, mountains and nations.

“Prof Gazzoni’s database can be consulted on the website www.mappingdante.com.

“The diploma will begin on September 1, 2020 and end on September 30, 2021.”   –“Introduction,” Diploma Dante Alighieri

Contributed by Andrea Gazzoni

“Catholic Sculptor Re-Creating Dante’s Divine Comedy Aims to Shift the Emphasis off Hell”

“In preparation for the 700th anniversary of the death of medieval poet Dante Alighieri, a Canadian artist is creating a sculptural tribute to his Divine Comedy that would be the first sculptural rendition of the entire poem.

‘In our culture Dante is becoming lost,’ said sculptor Timothy Schmalz in an interview with Religion News Service on Monday (July 20).

Not only is Dante less and less required reading, Schmalz said, but his Divine Comedy is often misrepresented by putting the focus only on the first part — the descriptions of hell and its fiery punishments.

[. . .]

There are 100 cantos in the poem, which have previously been represented in etchings and drawings by the likes of Sandro Botticelli, Gustave Doré and William Blake, but Schmalz would be the first to represent the full poem through sculpture.

‘I realized why it hasn’t been done before,’ he said. ‘It’s so much work.'”    –Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service, July 21, 2020

Beatrice Doodle Mask

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“La Commedia di Dante alle Terme di Caracalla”

“Dal 20 luglio al 2 settembre 2020 Franco Ricordi porta in scena a Roma “La Commedia di Dante alle Terme di Caracalla”.

Nel suggestivo scenario archeologico capitolino, l’artista e filosofo porta in scena un nuovo progetto da lui ideato e interpretato che ha come protagonista l’Opera del sommo Poeta, attraverso una lettura di Canti scelti dall’Inferno, dal Purgatorio e dal Paradiso. Il progetto è promosso dalla Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma.”    –Valerio De Luca, A Naso, July 21, 2020

Dante Alighieri Hoodie

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