“The Most Harrowing Paintings of Hell Inspired by Dante’s Inferno

“Dante Alighieri’s depiction of the afterlife has inspired generations of readers since the Divine Comedy was first published in 1472. In the 14,233 verses of this poem, Dante envisions a trip to the afterlife, guided first by the Roman poet Virgil, who leads him through Hell and Purgatory, and then by his beloved Beatrice, who leads him through Paradise. His detail-rich descriptions of Hell, envisioned as nine concentric circles containing souls of those “who have rejected spiritual values by yielding to bestial appetites or violence, or by perverting their human intellect to fraud or malice against their fellowmen,” have inspired artists for the last five centuries. Here are some of the most poignant visualizations of Dante’s Inferno.

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Stradanus, Canto VIII (1587-1588)

Flemish painter Jan van der Straet, known by his Italian name ‘Stradanus,’ completed a series of illustrations of the Divine Comedy between 1587 and 1588, currently preserved at the Laurentian Library in Florence. This illustration refers to Canto VIII, where the wrathful and slothful are punished. Stradanus combines elements of Italian Mannerism, such as painstaking attention to detail, with distinctive Flemish traits like the physiognomy of the demonic figure steering Dante’s boat, who shows a deeply harrowing expression.”    –V. M. Traverso, Aleteia, July 17, 2020

“Parenting Hell” from Litterbox Comics

Posted October 27, 2019, on Litterbox Comics.

“The Divine Comedy of The House That Jack Built

“After being banned from the Cannes Film Festival and finishing his Depression Trilogy, Lars von Trier returned from a five-year hiatus with The House That Jack Built. The film follows a sadistic, failed architect named Jack (Matt Dillon) who recalls his murders to the ancient Roman poet Virgil (Bruno Ganz), as the pair make their way through Hell. To Virgil’s disgust, Jack sees these incidents as misunderstood works of art.

When the film premiered at Cannes, it prompted a one-hundred-person walkout and a ten-minute standing ovation. While the festival is known for its dramatic receptions, The House That Jack Built is, indeed, a polarizing film. It’s is either the nail in the coffin for von Trier’s career or the darkest comedy of 2018. Depends on who you ask.
As Ryan Hollinger puts it in the video essay belowThe House That Jack Built is what you get when you give a serial killer two and a half hours to gush about how great they are. On paper that sounds like a recipe for disaster. But on the screen, the iffy conceit materializes as a mocking character study of the kind of ego-trip that thinks it’s so charming and clever that it can get away anything.
Ultimately, The House that Jack Built is a film that turns a monster into a punchline. And if you let go of seriousness and pretension, the film reveals itself as an absurd, self-effacing, and divinely funny comedy.”    –Meg Shields, Film School Rejects, July 25, 2020
Check out our original post on The House that Jack Built (2018) here.

“Catholic Sculptor Re-Creating Dante’s Divine Comedy Aims to Shift the Emphasis off Hell”

“In preparation for the 700th anniversary of the death of medieval poet Dante Alighieri, a Canadian artist is creating a sculptural tribute to his Divine Comedy that would be the first sculptural rendition of the entire poem.

‘In our culture Dante is becoming lost,’ said sculptor Timothy Schmalz in an interview with Religion News Service on Monday (July 20).

Not only is Dante less and less required reading, Schmalz said, but his Divine Comedy is often misrepresented by putting the focus only on the first part — the descriptions of hell and its fiery punishments.

[. . .]

There are 100 cantos in the poem, which have previously been represented in etchings and drawings by the likes of Sandro Botticelli, Gustave Doré and William Blake, but Schmalz would be the first to represent the full poem through sculpture.

‘I realized why it hasn’t been done before,’ he said. ‘It’s so much work.'”    –Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service, July 21, 2020

“La Commedia di Dante alle Terme di Caracalla”

“Dal 20 luglio al 2 settembre 2020 Franco Ricordi porta in scena a Roma “La Commedia di Dante alle Terme di Caracalla”.

Nel suggestivo scenario archeologico capitolino, l’artista e filosofo porta in scena un nuovo progetto da lui ideato e interpretato che ha come protagonista l’Opera del sommo Poeta, attraverso una lettura di Canti scelti dall’Inferno, dal Purgatorio e dal Paradiso. Il progetto è promosso dalla Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma.”    –Valerio De Luca, A Naso, July 21, 2020

Frank Bruni, “From Trump, No Respect for Ruth Bader Ginsburg, or the Rules”

Photo by Gage Skidmore (Wikimedia Commons)

“‘The only way we’re going to lose this election is if the election is rigged,’ Trump told supporters at a rally in Wisconsin last month. He has repeatedly made versions of that claim, at one point exhorting North Carolinians to monitor polling sites and ‘watch all the thieving and stealing and robbing’ by Democrats, who will work to lift Biden to victory by ‘doing very bad things.’

“And it’s a perfect example of Trump’s tendency to assign his own motives and methods to others. He worries that they’ll cheat because he has always cheated — on his taxes, on his wives, in his business dealings, in his philanthropy. He imagines them cheating because he actually is cheating.

[. . .]

“But Trump’s cheating is its own virus, infecting everyone around him. Trump’s cheating is its own ecosystem. Abandon all scruple, ye who enter here.”   — Frank Bruni, “From Trump, No Respect for Ruth Bader Ginsburg, or the Rules,” New York Times (September 19, 2020)

Contributed by Dan Christian

“Knowledge is Power” – Andrew Adom

“Knowledge is Power,” a literacy narrative by Andrew Adom in the Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives, in which Andrew recounts his experience in first reading literary classics, such as Dante’s Inferno.

“Students Enjoy the Nine Circles of Hell” at Knox College

“With screams emanating from the Q&A House and a long line waiting for their turn, 99 students traveled through the nine circles of hell on Saturday night.

Groups of up to three students traveled through the transformed living room, kitchen and basement, being scared by 12 student actors playing roles or helping behind the scenes in the Dante’s Inferno themed house.

‘The interesting thing from this year is usually you have a guide, a very creepy guide, that takes you through the haunted house. And this time you have the narrator telling you which circle you’re in, and it’s usually through a wall, and you have to follow a laid out path,’ senior Melissa Sher said.

Despite the cold weather, students waited for over an hour at times on Saturday, and in total almost 140 students traveled through the 10-15 minute haunted house on Saturday and Sunday, beating the previous year’s total.

‘[This year was] just as creepy,’ senior Katie Haynes said, ‘They hold themselves to a pretty high standard and doing this is just wonderful.’

While some students found parts scary, others enjoyed the house and even spurted out some laughs.”    –John Williams, The Knox Student, November 2, 2011

“7 Circles of Library Hell” at Northwestern University

“Periodicals: The most frigid and judgmental part of the library. If you even think of talking or breathing above a whisper, you will be violently shushed (and maybe shanked).”    –Caroline Brown, North by Northwestern, February 22, 2016

Dante. The Vision of Art Exhibition

“The Uffizi is providing Dante-centric artworks for the major exhibition Dante. The Vision of Art held in Forlì from March 12 to July 4, 2021.

The show is part of the nationwide celebrations for the 700th anniversary of the death of Dante Alighieri, but also aims to symbolize the rebirth of Italy and the art world.

The project is based on an idea by Eike Schmidt, director of the Gallerie degli Uffizi, and Gianfranco Brunelli, director of major exhibitions of the Fondazione Cassa dei Risparmi di Forlì, while Professors Antonio Paolucci and Professor Fernando Mazzocca are the show curators. The decision to hold the exhibition in Forlì is part of an overall strategy to promote the area that acts as a natural bridge between Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna. Dante sought refuge in Forlì in the Autumn of 1302 after leaving Arezzo. The poet stayed with the city’s noble ruling family, the Ordelaffi, for more than a year.

Several works will be loaned to Forlì by the Uffizi, including Andrea del Castagno’s portraits of Dante and Farinata degli Uberti, which are not usually not public view in Florence, given their placement in the San Pier Scheraggio church, which is where the council met on which Dante once served. A second Dante portrait, by Cristofano dell’Altissimo, will be displayed in the Forlì exhibition. Pontormo’s Exile from Paradise and a Michelangelo’s drawing depicting a doomed man in Divine Comedy’s Inferno, in addition to a selection of fine sketches by Federico Zuccari for the 500th illustrated edition of the text. Other highlights include a marble bust of Virgil by the eighteenth-century sculptor Carlo Albacini, and the nineteenth-century canvas by Tuscan proto-romantic Nicola Monti, titled Francesca da Rimini in the Inferno.”    –Editorial Staff, The Florentine, July 10, 2020