“In Visions of Heaven, renowned scholar Martin Kemp investigates Dante’s supreme vision of divine light and its implications for the visual artists who were the inheritors of Dante’s vision. The whole book may be regarded as a new Paragone (comparison), the debate that began in the Renaissance about which of the arts is superior. Dante’s ravishing accounts of divine light set painters the severest challenge, which took them centuries to meet. A major theme running through Dante’s Divine Comedy, particularly in its third book, the Paradiso, centres on Dante s acts of seeing (conducted according to optical rules with respect to the kind of visual experience that can be accomplished on earth) and the overwhelming of Dante s earthly senses by heavenly light, which does not obey his rules of earthly optics. [. . .] Published to coincide with the 700th anniversary of Dante’s death, this hugely original book combines a close reading of Dante’s poetry with analysis of early optics and the art of the Renaissance and Baroque to create a fascinating, wide-ranging and visually exciting study.” — Amazon (retrieved October 18, 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.
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.