Edmund White, Inside a Pearl (2014)

inside-a-pearl-edmund-white-2014Jay Parini describes Marie-Claude de Brunhoff, a main character in Edmund White’s memoir Inside a Pearl: My Years in Paris, as “a kind of fragile Virgil to White’s dewy-eyed Dante, leading him with gusto into the labyrinth of Parisian life.”    –Jay Parini, The New York Times, February 7, 2014

Divine Comedy Illustrations by Miquel Barceló

divine-comedy-illustrations-by-miquel-barcelo divine-comedy-illustrations-by-miquel-barcelo

This series of watercolor illustrations, painted by Spanish artist Miquel Barceló, exhibited at the Louvre in 2004.

See Torresani-edu for more information.

Al Dante Publishing House, France

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See Éditions Al Dante website.

“Heaven, Hell, and Dying Well: Images of Death in the Middle Ages” at the Getty Museum (May-August, 2012)

getty-museum-images-of-death-in-the-middle-ages“Denise Poncher before a Vision of Death”
Master of the Chronique scandaleuse
French, about 1500
Tempera colors, ink, and gold on parchment
5 1/4 x 3 7/16 in.
MS. 109, FOL. 156
“Heaven, Hell, and Dying Well: Images of Death in the Middle Ages” at the Getty Museum

See also: film screenings

Yi Zhou, The Ear (2009), The Greatness (2010)

“Imagine that van Gogh, after slicing off his ear, finds himself sucked down a passage into his own brain, which turns out to be the concentric onion of Dante’s Divine Comedy. Then capture that journey with three-dimensional digital imaging software and turn it, frame by computerized frame, into a five-minute animated movie. [. . .]

“She had her first breakthrough when she was taken on by the Jerome de Noirmont gallery in Paris in 2002. Since then, she has had a major sculpture and video projection work, ‘Paradise,’ installed in the Piazza della Signoria and the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, in 2006 [. . .].

“Ms. Zhou’s solo show of video art, ink brush drawings and sculpture at Shanghai Contrasts, running to Dec. 9, is built around her most recent film, The Greatness, a variation on the theme of Dante’s Divine Comedy.

“The film is a sequel to The Ear: both star Pharrell Williams, one in the flesh and the other as a sculpted vase, and both explore transience and death. In The Greatness, Mr. Williams’s look-alike vase, shattered by a bullet, disintegrates into a fractured universe while the bullet, like Dante guided by Virgil, travels through visions of hell and redemption accompanied by an other-worldly soundtrack composed by Mr. Morricone.” [. . .]    –Claudia Barbieri, The New York Times, December 1, 2010

Read more about The Greatness, on Vice.

Henri Barbusse, “L’Enfer” (1908)

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“L‘Enfer has been more widely read and discussed in France than any other realistic study since the days of Zola. The French sales of the volume, in 1917 alone, exceeded a hundred thousand copies, a popularity all the more remarkable from the fact that its appeal is based as much on its philosophical substance as on the story which it tells. . .
Although the action of this story is spiritual as well as physical, and occupies less than a month of time, it is focused intensely upon reality. Everything that the author permits us to see and understand is seen through a single point of life–a hole pierced in the wall between two rooms of a grey Paris boarding house. The time is most often twilight, with its romantic penumbra, darkening into the obscurity of night by imperceptible degrees.
M. Barbusse has conceived the idea of making a man perceive the whole spiritual tragedy of life through a cranny in the wall, and there is a fine symbolism in this, as if he were vouchsafing us the opportunity to perceive eternal things through the tiny crack which is all that is revealed to us of infinity, so that the gates of Horn, darkened by our human blindness, scarcely swing open before they close again.” [. . .]    –Edward J. O’Brian, L’Enfer Introduction, 1918 (Gutenberg)

The Thinker Sells For Record Price

the-thinker-rodin“The Thinker is one of the most recognizable sculptures in the world. It even has a role in the film Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian. Last week one of the Thinker sculptures by French master Auguste Rodin was sold at auction for more than 3 million euros ($4.2 million) in Paris at auctioneers Drouot. This Thinker, which is just 28.5 inches high, set a record for any of the Thinkers. This statue is part of a series of 21 sculptures made by Rodin. It was originally meant to be part of Rodin’s Gates of Hell inspired by Dante’s Divine Comedy. Rodin made a first small plaster version around 1880 and the first large scale bronze was presented to the public in 1904. This particular Thinker was purchased by Emile Chouanard in 1917, the same year it was cast. Another Rodin statue owned by Chouanard, ‘Little Eve’ also sold for a record price of over 2.4 million euros at the auction.”    –Deidre Woollard, Luxist, June 22, 2009

Contributed by Patrick Molloy

Auguste Rodin, “The Gates of Hell”

auguste-rodin-gates-of-hell“On August 16, 1880, Rodin received a commission to create a pair of bronze doors for a new decorative arts museum in Paris. Although the museum did not come to fruition and the doors were never fully realized, The Gates of Hell became the defining project of Rodin’s career and a key to understanding his artistic aims. During the thirty-seven-year period that the sculptor worked on the project he continually added, removed, or altered the more than two hundred human figures that appear on the doors. Some of his most famous works, like The ThinkerThe Three Shades, or The Kiss, were originally conceived as part of The Gates and were only later removed, enlarged, and cast as independent pieces.
Rodin’s initial inspiration came from Inferno (Italian for ‘hell’), the first part of Italian poet Dante Alighieri’s (1265–1324) epic poem The Divine Comedy. Rodin imagined the scenes described by Dante as a world with limitless space and a lack of gravitational pull. This allowed for ceaseless and radical experimentation by the artist, with figures that obey no rules in their poses, emotive gestures, or sexuality. For Rodin, the chaotic population on The Gates of Hell enjoyed only one final freedom—the ability to express their agony with complete abandon. In the end, the artist discarded the specific narratives of Dante’s poem, and today The Gates is no longer a methodical representation of Inferno. Instead, the figures on the doors poignantly and heart-renderingly evoke universal human emotions and experiences, such as forbidden love, punishment, and suffering, but they also suggest unapologetic sexuality, maternal love, and contemplation.”    —Rodin Museum

Anna Caterina Antonacci, “Altre Stelle” (2009)

anna-caterina-antonacci-altre-stelle-2009.jpg “It is the rare singer who can command the support of an orchestra for a concert of arias. Having the event be fully staged, with sets and costumes, is almost unheard of. But the soprano Anna Caterina Antonacci is a favorite in Paris, as she is likely to be anywhere she appears, and the Theatre des Champs-Elysees is currently presenting ‘Altre Stelle’ (‘Other Stars,’ Dante’s term about the power of love), a program of landmark French opera arias linked by the theme of unrequited love.” [. . .]    –George Loomis, The New York Times, April 28, 2009

“Tuscany” Perfume by Aramis

tuscany-perfume-per-donna-by-aramis      tuscany-per-uomo-perfume-by-aramis

Difficult to see, but the “Tuscany per donna” has as its slogan in French “Out of that stream there issued living sparks” (Par. XXX.64) and in English, “It draws fire to the moon” (Par. I.115). The “Tuscany per uomo” has as its slogan, “It moves the sun and the other stars” (last verse of all three canticles).

Contributed by Guy Raffa (University of Texas, Austin)