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.

 

Illustration by Denis Forkas (2015)

“Study for Hypocrites (illustration for Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri/Inferno, Canto 23), after Francisco Goya after John Flaxman,” 2015

“We found, down there, a people painted bright.
Their tread, as round they went, was very slow,
weeping, worn down and seemingly defeated.”[. . .]   —
Study for Hypocrites, denisforkas.com, 2015

(trans. R. Kirkpatrick)

Matt Kish’s Inferno Illustrations (2020)

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“I have always been fascinated by the crude and vulgar spectacle of Inferno. Perhaps some of what follows is more personal than validated by scholarship, but despite his clear devotion to Christianity and deep and abiding belief in dogma, Dante seems to relish in his bizarre portrayal of the torments of Hell. I think I remember the poem was originally written in low, or street, Italian rather than formal language, because Dante wanted the tone to match the content and for the work to be something everyone could read. My experience growing up with comic books in particular was that they too were a kind of low, vulgar entertainment. Designed to titillate and provoke, but in no way were they deemed serious or valid art. There was a sort of dirty appeal to the comics I saw on the shelf in the grocery store, especially the pulpy black and white horror comic magazines like Creepy, Eerie, and Vampirella. For my approach to Inferno, I wanted to borrow heavily from this lurid, brightly colored, sickly appealing visual style as well as the connotations of what comics seemed to be to my young mind. So this is mirrored in my painting style, which is very bright and graphic and employs linework over tone and value (essentially, I paint like one should draw, I don’t paint like one should paint) as well as in my collaging bits of text and image from comics into the illustrations.”    —Matt Kish (personal email communication, September 28, 2020)

You can check out the full series and Kish’s other works on his website.

“An Architect’s Vision of Dante’s Hell”

“Based in Campinas, Brazil, Paulo de Tarso Coutinho is a professional architect with a passion for Dante who created the following videos to visually represent the spatial issues in play in the Dantean conception of hell. Drawing on the early modern reception of the Commedia, including Antonio Manetti (1423-1497) and Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), Coutinho incisively reads Dante’s infernal journey in architectural terms and shows how the form of the spiral is a necessary solution for the way that the space of hell is narrated in the poem. In similar fashion, his video of Sandro Botticelli’s (1445-1510) illustration of hell puts an emphasis on the concrete, creating a cross-section of the globe to put this infernal model in real space and highlighting Botticelli’s idiosyncratic use of staircases to think through the mechanics of Dante’s descent. Coutinho’s work is an important way of showing the degree to which Dante’s poetry was infused by the real, martialing mathematical and scientific currents to narrate a space that would inspire the sort of reception by later artists and thinkers who sought to map it in precise geographical and spatiotemporal terms. As Coutinho shows, that process continues still.”   –Akash Kumar, Digital Dante, 2018

Check out the Digital Dante site to view the videos.

A. T. Pratt

Collection of illustrations by artist A. T. Pratt, inspired by several moments from Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso.

Inferno Pop-up Book by Massimo Missiroli, with Paolo Rambelli (2020)

La Divina Commedia, composta da Dante Alighieri nei primi vent’anni del XIV secolo, è universalmente ritenuta una delle più grandi opere della letteratura di tutti i tempi. Le illustrazioni per la Commedia di Gustave Dorè sono divenute un riferimento iconografico imprescindibile non solo per i lettori successivi di Dante ma per tutti coloro che hanno cercato di trasporlo sul grande schermo.

“Per la prima volta Dante e Dorè diventano ora protagonisti di un libro pop-up – cioè di ciò che è più vicino alla dinamicità del cinema pur conservando la forma base del libro – grazie all’opera di uno dei più apprezzati paper engineer a livello internazionale: Massimo Missiroli. Il cartotecnico italiano, già vincitore del Premio Andersen nel 2001 e candidato al premio Meggendorfer nel 2004, ha infatti realizzato, in collaborazione con Paolo Rambelli dell’Università di Bologna per la parte testuale, una straordinaria versione pop-up dell’Inferno Dantesco, sfruttando per ogni illustrazione una diversa tecnica di sviluppo verticale delle figure, così da rinnovare ad ogni pagina lo stupore per la capacità evocativa del capolavoro dedicato da Dorè al capolavoro di Dante.

“Un’opera unica ed originale che i collezionisti di pop-up, così come gli amanti di Dante e di Dorè non possono non possedere.”  — Project Website

See a prototype of the pop-up book on YouTube (last accessed May 24, 2020).

To help fund the project, visit the Kickstarter page (expires June 21, 2020).

Lily Pfaff, Divine Comedy Illustrations (2014)

“the cherubim and seraphim within the Empyrean in Dante’s Paradiso.” © Lily Pfaff, saltwort.tumblr.com

See more of Lily Pfaff’s Divine Comedy illustrations here (posted to Tumblr May 25, 2014).

La Divina Avventura

La Divina Avventura è un libro illustrato, in versi, che potete trovare nella vostra libreria di fiducia in tutta Italia.

La Divina Avventura è la Divina Commedia vista con gli occhi dei bambini e delle bambine, con gli occhi dei ragazzi e delle ragazze.

“Anzi, meglio ancora, ascoltata con le orecchie dei più piccoli perché il testo in versi è scritto per essere letto ad alta voce da mamme, papà, nonne, nonni, zii e da chiunque altro voglia tuffarsi nelle incredibili avventure vissute da Dante Alighieri attraverso i tre regni magici.” [. . .]    —La Divina Avventura website, 2019.

You can purchase a copy of La Divina Avventura by Enrico Cerni, Francesca Gambino, and Maria Distefano here.

Contributed by Enrico Cerni.

Kathia Recio’s #Dante2018 Illustrations

Kathia Recio is a graphic artist from Mexico City. During the #Dante2018 social media movement, Recio created a series of illustrations for the Divine Comedy. Pictured above are a few of her illustrations, which you can view on her Instagram. Clockwise from the top left, this the link to the first illustration, the second illustration, the third illustration, and the fourth illustration.

You can check out more of Kathia Recio’s work on her Instagram and on her website.

See other posts related to #Dante2018 here.

Contributed by Pablo Maurette (Florida State University)

Esteban Serrano’s #Dante2018 Illustrations

Esteban Serrano is a designer and cartoonist, and also goes by Cien Perros online. During the #Dante2018 collective reading on social media, Serrano created a cartoon for each canto of the Divine Comedy. The artwork above are a few of Serrano’s illustrations. Clockwise from the top right is an illustration for Paradiso 26,  an illustration for Purgatorio 29, an illustration for Inferno 34, and an illustration for Inferno 24.

You can see all of Serrano’s illustrations for the Divine Comedy on Medium.

To check out more of Serrano’s artwork, you can follow him on Instagram and Twitter.

See other posts related to #Dante2018 here.

Contributed by Pablo Maurette (Florida State University)