Empyrean by Alexandra Carr

Hell, Heaven and Hope: A Journey through life and the afterlife with Dante is now open to the public in the Palace Green Galleries at Durham. The exhibition features a fabulous range of copies of Dante’s works, as well as contemporary artwork. Alexandra Carr’s Empyrean features as part of the section of Paradise. Completed as part of Alexandra’s Leverhulme Trust Artist in Residence programme, the sculpture represents the spheres of the medieval universe, drawing on Grosseteste and Dante: sculpting with light on the grandest scale in the creation of the universe.”    —Ordered Universe, December 4, 2017

Franz Liszt, “Dante Sonata”

“Franz Liszt’s Dante Sonata, also known as the Fantasia Quasi Sonata, is a sonata written for piano solo (different than Liszt’s Dante Symphony). Written as program music during the Romantic period, there are nine different motifs used throughout the piece, representing the nine different levels of Hell. In addition, within the nine motifs, Liszt created two major themes or ideas, one in major and one in minor. The minor is said to represent the dark nature of Hell, and the major is said to represent Beatrice and Heaven.” –Contributor Ian Peiris

Listen to Mikhail Pletnev’s recording of the piece on YouTube (last accessed February 19, 2020). See also the previous post for Liszt’s Dante Symphony here.

Contributed by Ian Peiris (The Bolles School ’22)

Trinity of Realities – Bayonetta

“The Trinity Of Realities is a term to describe the nature of the universe of the Bayonetta series. As its name suggests, the Trinity is composed of 3 realms that house the traits of light, darkness, and chaos respectively. Bayonetta travels through each of these realms numerous times throughout the games.

[. . .]

Paradiso

The highest layer of the Trinity, Paradiso is home to the Laguna, or angels, and is closest to the human interpretation of heaven.

The Human World

The plane of reality in which humans live, also known as a realm of chaos before Aesir brought order to it with his rule.

Inferno

The realm of darkness ruled over by the demonic Queen Sheba, Inferno is closest to the human interpretation of hell.

Purgatorio

Acting as a parallel reality to the Human World and not necessarily a member of the Trinity. Purgatorio is a realm that is most similar to the human interpretation of purgatory, as the name suggests.”    –“Trinity of Realities,” Bayonetta Wiki, December 19, 2019

Learn more about Bayonetta, Platinum Games‘ 2009 hack ‘n’ slash video game, here.

“Wandering from the Straight Path of Clarity,” review of “The Divine Comedy: Heaven, Purgatory and Hell Revisited by Contemporary African Artists”

“You may feel, at times, as if you’ve been handed a map, and then told that the map may or may not be accurate, may or may not relate to anything in the real world, may or may not be entirely a fiction, or a random design concocted by some clever trickster to mislead you. That is how the title of a new show at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art — ‘The Divine Comedy: Heaven, Purgatory and Hell Revisited by Contemporary African Artists’ — relates to the work on view, by more than 40 artists from 18 African countries.

“The exhibition is shoehorned into spaces not quite big enough for anything to breathe comfortably, filling temporary galleries, stairwells and passage spaces on four floors of the mostly subterranean museum. The current exhibition, curated by Simon Njami, is slightly smaller than the original Dante exhibition he presented in Frankfurt last spring, but it still sprawls, both in its physical layout (the route through its various rooms requires careful navigation) and intellectually.

“Consider one of the best works in the show, a large-scale drawing by Julie Mehretu, in which a finely etched suggestion of architectural facades is overlaid with a storm of delicate lines, smudges and erasures. In the catalogue, published in conjunction with the Frankfurt display, her work is listed as belonging to the ‘Purgatory’ part of the presentation; in Washington, it is in the ‘Inferno’ room. It isn’t the only work to migrate from one celestial realm to another, and those migrations suggest that the basic template borrowed from Dante is not to be taken too seriously.” […]    –Phillip Kennicott, The Washington Post, April 17, 2015

See also our post on the first iteration of Njami’s exhibition, featured at the Savannah College of Art and Design’s museum.

Arthur Chu on Hell

“Hell has a gate with an inscription on it and everything, it’s famous” […]    –Arthur Chu, Twitter, October 25, 2018

What Dreams May Come, 1998

What Dreams May ComeVincent Ward’s 1998 film, What Dreams May Come, starring Robin Williams and Annabella Sciorra, explores the after-life. The film’s protagonist, Chris Neilson, finds himself in heaven after death. His wife, Annie, has committed suicide and resides in hell; when Chris sets out to find her, he travels through a representation of the first seven circles of Dante’s Inferno.

Steve Miller Band, “Jet Airliner”

Jet AirlinerOne line of Steve Miller Band’s 1977 single “Jet Airliner” will sound familiar to any reader of Dante’s Divine Comedy:

“You know you got to go through hell before you get to heaven.”    —AZ Lyrics

Listen to the full song here.

Contributed by Kelly Clark

SCAD Museum of Art: “The Divine Comedy”

Muluneh Aida, 99 SeriesThe Savannah College of Art and Design’s museum featured an exhibit called “The Divine Comedy: Heaven, Purgatory and Hell Revisited by Contemporary African Artists” which ran from October 16, 2014 to January 25, 2015.

“SCAD presents the U.S. premiere of ‘The Divine Comedy: Heaven, Purgatory and Hell Revisited by Contemporary African Artists.’ Curated by the internationally acclaimed Simon Njami, this monumental exhibition explores the thematic sequences of Dante Alighieri’s epic poem through works by more than 40 contemporary artists from 19 African countries as well as the African diaspora. [. . .]

“Through a variety of media, this exhibition demonstrates how concepts visited in Dante’s poem transcend Western traditions and resonate with diverse contemporary cultures, belief systems and political issues. Overall, the exhibition provides a probing examination of life, death and the continued power of art to express the unspoken and intangible.”    —SCAD Museum of Art

The exhibition was later featured at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art, running from April 8 to August 2, 2015. The large exhibition was on display in the entrance pavilion, stairwells, and all three floors of the museum. See the National Museum of African Art’s exhibition page here, and Elena Goukassian’s review in the Washington Post here (April 16, 2015).

“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

The New Yorker’s “Nine Circles of Heaven”

nine-circles-of-heaven
Contributed by Leslie Zarker Morgan