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” Perfumes 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 Paradiso).

Contributed by Guy Raffa (University of Texas, Austin)

Romeo Castellucci’s “Divina Commedia” (2008)

romeo-castellucci-divina-commedia-2008“On February 22, 2002, Romeo Castellucci was assigned the title ‘Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres’ by the Ministry of Culture of the French Republic in the person of Cathérine Tasca. In 2007 Romeo Castellucci was nominated ‘Artiste Associé’ by the artistic direction of the Festival d’Avignon for the 62nd edition in 2008. Here he presented the powerful trilogy Inferno, Purgatorio, Paradiso inspired by Dante’s Divine Comedy.
In 2010 Le Monde named the trilogy dedicated to the Divine Comedy the best play and one of the ten most influential cultural events in the world for the decade 2000-2010.”  — Peak Performances

Click on the following links to read reviews of Castellucci’s Inferno and Purgatorio by Jean-Pierre Léonardini (trans. Isabelle Métral).

Jean-Luc Godard, “Notre Musique” (2004)

jeanluc-godard-notre-musique-2004“The 73-year-old director’s serene meditation on Europe’s landscape after battle has an unusually obvious triptych structure, with each panel (or act) named for one of Dante’s three ‘kingdoms.’ The central, hour-long ‘Purgatory’ of a writers’ conference in Sarajevo bridges the opening 10-minute ‘Hell’ and a concluding 10-minute ‘Heaven.'” [. . .]    –J. Hoberman, The Village Voice, November 24-30, 2004


Kimberly Heuston, “Dante’s Daughter” (2004)

kimberly-heuston-dantes-daughter-2004“When political upheaval forces her family to flee and separate, Antonia takes her brother’s advice to heart as she journeys through Italy and France with her father, the poet Dante Alighieri. She becomes a pilgrim who also embraces interior journeys: she struggles with her difficult, inattentive father; with her heart’s desire to paint as her father writes; and with her first tastes of young love. All the while Antonia harbors dreams that others tell her women are not entitles to dream. Dante’s Daughter portrays a life in full, one that beautifully answers Antonia’s own questions: “Had my journey made me wise? Had my secret griefs made me strong?” This highly imagined story–based on the few known facts of Antonia’s life–is set against the dramatic background of pre-Renaissance Europe, rendered in rich detail by storyteller and historian Kimberley Heuston.”    —Amazon