Inferno by Franz von Stuck (1908)

Inferno. Franz von Stuck (1908)
Oil on canvas.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, NY

“This painting’s title refers to Dante Alighieri’s medieval epic of a journey through hell. Although Stuck employed traditional symbols of the underworld—a snake, a demon, and a flaming pit—the dissonant colors and stylized, exaggerated poses are strikingly modern. He designed the complementary frame. Stuck’s imagery was likely inspired by Auguste Rodin’s The Gates of Hell, particularly the figure of The Thinker (see related works nearby). When Inferno debuted in an exhibition of contemporary German art at The Met in 1909, critics praised its ‘sovereign brutality.’ The picture bolstered Stuck’s reputation as a visionary artist unafraid to explore the dark side of the psyche.”    —The Met on Franz von Stuck’s Inferno.

To see the artwork that von Stuck was influenced by with this piece, check out The Met’s website.

Tina Turner and Dante Alighieri

In an interview with the New York Times Book Review, Tina Turner mentioned Dante Alighieri and the Divine Comedy in her answers to Jillian Tamaki’s literary questions.

Ms. Turner on the Divine Comedy as a book she can read again and again:

“In 2017, my kidneys were failing and I went through a prolonged period of dialysis. Every time I went to the clinic, I brought the same three books with me: The Book of Secrets, by Deepak Chopra, the Divine Comedy, by Dante, and a book of photography by the extraordinary Horst P. Horst. I needed something for the spirit, something for the intellect and something for the senses, and the ritual of studying the same books while I was undergoing treatment was comforting to me because it imposed order on a situation I couldn’t otherwise control.” [. . .]

Ms. Turner on Dante as her first-choice guest for her literary dinner party:

“I like a dinner party to be a lively mixture of different kinds of people — young, old and everything in between. So my first choice would be Dante — after all my years of studying the Divine Comedy, I need to ask him a lot of questions! I could be his Beatrice! Since I can’t choose between Anne Rice and Stephen King, I’d set places for both of them. Their books have kept me awake for many a night because there’s nothing I enjoy more than a good scare! And I’d definitely serve Thai food, because I like things spicy.” [. . .]    –Tina Turner interviewed by Jillian Tamaki, the New York Times Book Review, October 18, 2018.

You can read the full interview on the New York Times.

Nine Circles of Columbia Hell

Artwork by Charlotte Voelkel/Head Spectrum Illustrator, Columbia Daily Spectator, March 30, 2016

Penn Station and the Circles of Hell

“On March 8, 2016, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo compared America’s least-loved train station, Penn Station, to ‘the seven levels of hell.’ Here’s the full quote:

‘It is a disgrace. More people go through Penn Station every day than Newark, Kennedy, and La Guardia airports combined. It’s the most heavily traveled transportation hub in the hemisphere, and imagine what they say when they get off: “This is New York? Looks like the seven levels of hell. I’m in New York?”‘ [. . .]

“Penn Station is so viscerally awful that you can’t help but look for sin in relation to this place as causes for, results of, or simply in association with, its awfulness. So let’s humor the Governor and his imperfect analogy and try to map these different sins to activity occurring in (or near) Penn Station. I’ll be the Virgil to your Dante. Come with me across the River Acheron, or in this case, the stream of vomit and human misery running along West 34th Street.” [. . .]    –Mark Lee, Overthinking It, March 18, 2016.

You can read the full article at Overthinking It.

Dante, Cocktail Bar (NYC)

Under new ownership since 2015, this NYC institution was named #16 of the world’s 50 best bars. Rechristened “Dante” (formerly Caffe Dante), the cocktail bar boasts registered landmark status and 100+ years of serving New York’s cultural elite.

Dante-NYC-Cocktail-Bar-2015From the Dante-NYC website: “Dante has been a beacon for the community of Greenwich Village since it opened its doors in 1915. Now a registered New York City landmark, this modest meeting house has always attracted people from all walks of life: famous actors, writers and musicians to the down at heel of the beatnik generation, all of whom have found solace in its relaxed & unpretentious environs. A place where a cup of espresso, a warm smile or a friendly embrace epitomized life’s simple pleasures.

“Now in its latest incarnation as Dante, its new owners, all lifelong industry professionals and old friends, have breathed new life into this iconic space. Its historical integrity and sense of community remain firmly in tact but now complemented by an elevated selection of modern Italian cuisine, world class cocktails and an award winning bar program. Welcome to Dante 2017, where everything old is new again.” Read the rest of the story here.

Caffe Dante had previously appeared on the Dante Today website. The original post is here.

Their “Dante”-branded ice-cube appeared on the site in 2016.

Bret Easton Ellis, American Psycho (1991)

The novel opens with “Abandon all hope ye who enter here.”

(Contributed by Antonio Barrenechea)

Weegee : King of the Nighttime Streets


Weegee (Ascher Fellig, 1899-1968), a New York City photographer, “was the Dante of New York’s nighttime demimonde. His photos, of swells and speakeasies, crime and crowds, or perps and play, are a singular record of New York City in the 1930s and ’40s.”    -David Gonzalez, The New York Times, September 28, 2017

Eataly, NYC

Contributed by Susan Chen (Yale, 2020)

Midtown NY Election Party Hell

“The Crossroads of the World will be turned into the Seventh Circle of Hell on election night when Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump host dueling ‘victory’ parties about 20 blocks from each other.

“He’ll spend the last night of this ugly campaign at the Hilton on Sixth Ave. She’ll be at the Javits Center. You’ll be stuck at the corner of W. 46th and Deliverance.

“Even under the best circumstances, Midtown Manhattan is New York’s no-fly zone, the place where no real person goes unless he has tickets to a play or somehow ended up leading out-of-town relatives through the biggest tourist trap this side of Patpong Road.” [. . .]    –Gersh Kuntzman, New York Daily News, November 4, 2016

Michael Counts, Paradiso: Chapter I, immersive theater (2016)

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[…]  “Illusion is a staple in all kinds of theater, but it is doubly vital to Paradiso, a suspense thriller that is also a game. Using a structure that borrows from Dante’s Divine Comedy, it has a vibe that, in Mr. Counts’s telling, owes something to Ridley Scott’s futuristic classic Blade Runner and the TV drama Mr. Robot.

“With a plot that involves a conspiracy, it’s a narrative-driven twist on the increasingly popular escape-room genre of participatory entertainment. According to convention, a group of people is closed in a room, or sequence of rooms, with a single collective aim: to solve a series of puzzles in under an hour. Their prize is liberty — which, it’s true, will come at the end of the hour either way.” […]    –Laura Collins-Hughes, The New York Times, July 7, 2016

“PARADISO: Chapter 1 drops audience members (10 at a time) into a noir-ish nightmare that combines the surreal mystery of Stanley Kubrik with the stylized futuristic terror of Blade Runner into a one hour immersive theatrical Escape Room experience set in and inspired by the heart of New York’s Korea Town. Featuring a cast of dozens, highly designed sets with state-of-the-art special effects and the next generation of puzzles and mind-bending challenges, this immersive attraction is unlike anything audiences have ever seen or experienced.”    –from the Paradiso: Chapter I FAQs

Paradiso: Chapter 1 website

Contributed by Emma Pyle (Bowdoin, ’12)