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)

Malcolm Lowry, Under the Volcano (1947)

the-malcolm-lowry-project-under-the-volcano-1947Chapter 3. 65.6: “In Canto XIII of the Inferno, Dante and Virgil enter a pathless wood full of withered trees. Hearing a mournful wailing but seeing no one, the poet stops and is advised by Virgil to break off a twig from one of the trees. Dante does so; the tree becomes dark with blood and begins to cry: ‘Perché mi scerpi? / non hai tu spirto di pietade alcuno?’ (‘Why do you tear me? / Have you no spirit of pity?’). The trees are the suicides, those who have wantonly destroyed their lives and poisoned their souls and are therefore fixed for eternity in barren sterility. [. . .]”

Chapter 3. 65.7: “In Mexico, figures of Christ or the Virgin Mary are common features of house or garden walls as reminders of the suffering Christ assumed on behalf of all. The words also evoke the suffering figure of Faustus: the earlier ‘Regard’ recalls his hellish fall, but the emphasis here, as with the echoes of Eliot and Dante above, is on blood and sorrow and compassion. Faustus, in distress and anguish, cannot look up to heaven for the mercy that is there; one drop of Christ’s blood would save his soul, but he cannot avoid despair. Like Faustus, the Consul is unable to ask for relief, even though it is so immediately at hand. In an early draft [UBC 29-8, 1] Lowry was more explicit: ‘You have always secretly longed, like Christ, even like your own brother, to die.'” [. . .]    — The Malcolm Lowry Project: Under The Volcano, June 2012.

See these and many more Dante-related annotations to Under the Volcano at the hypertext resource the Malcolm Lowry Project, sponsored by University of Otago (NZ).

 

Tom Phillips’ Illustrated Inferno (1983)

In 1983, English artist Tom Phillips translated and illustrated his own version of Dante’s Inferno.

Phillips intended that his illustrations should give a visual commentary to Dante’s texts. As he writes in his notebook, ‘The range of imagery matches Dante in breath encompassing everything from Greek mythology to the Berlin Wall, from scriptural reference to a scene in an abattoir, and from alchemical signs to lavatory graffiti.’ And the range of modes of expression is similarly wide, including as it does, early calligraphy, collage, golden section drawings, maps, dragons, doctored photographs, references to other past artworks and specially programmed computer generated graphics.

“‘I have tried in this present version of Dante’s Inferno which I have translated and illustrated to make the book a container for the energy usually expended on large scale paintings… The artist thus tries to reveal the artist in the poet and the poet helps to uncover/release the poet in the artist.’”   —Notes on Dante’s Inferno, Tom Phillips’ website

Phillips also co-directed A TV Dante with Peter Greenaway in 1986.

Read more about Tom Phillips here.

 

Par. 28, Arielle Saiber and Guy Raffa for “Canto per Canto: Conversations with Dante in Our Time”

“Angels are like technology. Dante has to create a new language to describe the indescribable. What is extraordinary in the natural world is a tool to represent what is itself beyond representation. These are only some of the themes that [Dante Today founder] Arielle Saiber and Guy Raffa discuss in their conversation on Paradiso 28, a canto that is, in many respects, a canto of transitions – from material to immaterial, from looking down to looking up and forward.” -Leonardo Chiarantini

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.

Inf. 26, Fabian Alfie and Mary Watt for “Canto per Canto: Conversations with Dante in Our Time”


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.

Purg. 2, Alison Cornish and Leonardo Chiarantini for “Canto per Canto: Conversations with Dante in Our Time”

“Dante has just arrived in Purgatory and runs into an old friend — but finds he cannot embrace him. The souls in this canto share a moment of nostalgia for their earthly life and affections when Dante’s friend Casella sings one of Dante’s canzoni, a poem about love. Alison Cornish and Leonardo Chiarantini explore this canto’s relationship to life in a pandemic: the experience of moving into a new state of being, with new laws, where community must be forged in new ways; the importance of thinking globally, communicating across time-zones; the longing for and the strangeness of a simple hug between friends. Lock-down is its own kind of purgatory. Every day, there are failed embraces.” But, like Dante, we move forward.”    –Katherine Travers

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.