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

“Why we should read Dante as well as Shakespeare”

“Dante can seem overwhelming. T.S. Eliot’s peremptory declaration that ‘Dante and Shakespeare divide the modern world between them: there is no third’ is more likely to be off-putting these days than inspiring. Shakespeare’s plays are constantly being staged and filmed, and in all sorts of ways, with big names in the big parts, and when we see them we can connect with the characters and the issues with not too much effort.

Dante is much more remote – a medieval Italian author, writing about a trip he claims to have made through Hell, Purgatory and Paradise at Easter 1300, escorted first by a very dead poet, Virgil, and then by his dead beloved, Beatrice. and meeting the souls of lots of people we only vaguely know of, if we’ve heard of them at all. First he sees the damned being punished in ways we are likely to find grotesque or repulsive. And then, when he meets souls working their way towards heavenly bliss or already enjoying it, there are increasing doses of philosophy and theology for us to digest.

[. . .]

The addictiveness is evident from the fact that Dante enthusiasts, Christian or not, find it hard to imagine Hell in any other way, and spend happy minutes musing about which circle is best suited to some particular friend, enemy or public figure. Dante thought Paradise was much more difficult to get into and much more difficult to describe. We are certainly not accustomed to prolonged evocations of happiness. Paradiso gives us one way, and an astoundingly dynamic one, of thinking about what human happiness might ultimately be.”    –Peter Hainsworth, Oxford University Press Blog, February 27, 2015

“Dante Inspires Us to Follow Our Own Path”

“The Italian government has designated March 25 as ‘Dantedi,’ a day set aside to honor and pay tribute to Dante Alighieri, ‘Il Sommo Poeta’ (‘The Supreme Poet’). According to scholars, Dante’s journey to Hell, Purgatory and Paradise, which he recounted in his masterpiece, the Divine Comedy began on March 25 (his travels in the afterlife began during Easter week in they year 1300).

This year, 2020, commemorates the 700th anniversary of the completion of the Divine Comedy, Unfortunately, Dante died in 1321, some 150 years before the Divine Comedy was published.

[. . .]

‘Dantedi’ reflects the spirit of the Fourth Canto of the Inferno, depicting Virgil’s welcome as he returns among the great ancient poets spending eternity in Limbo: ‘L’ombra sua torna, ch’era dipartita’ (‘His spirit, which has left us, returns’). Indeed, ‘Dantedi’ is an opportunity for us to welcome Dante’s spirit back to our society – a spirit that encompasses innovation, imagination, inspiration, and intensity. Taken together, those ‘4-i’s’ are the essential ingredients for hope and a brighter future for ourselves and our posterity. And, perhaps, embracing those ‘4-i’s’ will help us to find a way to get through the current global health crisis – to stop this dreaded illness that continues to inflict our world.

Dante’s lesson to all of us: “Segui il tuo corso e lascia dir le gente” (“Follow your own road and let people talk”). Basically, Dante is telling us to follow our own star – to walk our own unique path. And, when things become challenging, Dante reminds us that ‘The path to Paradise begins in Hell.'”    –Hudson Reporter Reader, Hudson Reporter, March 15, 2020

Dante 700 by Timothy Schmalz

“In September 2019, Timothy Schmalz’s ‘Angels Unawares,’ a life-size bronze sculpture commemorating the 105th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, was installed in St. Peter’s Square in Rome. Pope Francis celebrated a special Mass for the occasion.

Timothy is currently working on a new project to honor the 700th anniversary of Dante Alighieri in 2021. ‘I believe Dante is one of the greatest writers of all time. So, I thought I would do what has never been done before. I think this is an amazing opportunity to celebrate not only Dante, but Italian and European culture.’ He plans to sculpt each of Dante’s 300 cantos. The ‘Dante 700’ sculpture project will memorialize this significant anniversary with sculptures of each of the 100 cantos in the Divine Comedy. Very few artists ever represent more than the Inferno in their paintings and sculptures. This is a rare project that will show individual sculptures of all the cantos, including Purgatory and Paradise.

The project will include the cantos and a principal sculpture of Dante. Installed together and cast in bronze, the work will be dynamically represented in order to inspire people to actually read Dante. This sculpture project will also be used to create a new illustrated book of Dante in collaboration with a new translation, which will be finished for the anniversary year in 2021.”    —La Gazzetta Italiana, April 2020

“Thrift Store Wood Engraving Print Turns Out To Be Salvador Dalí Artwork”

“It’s pretty much the thrift store dream; to find a rare, long lost treasure on a crowded tchotchke shelf, on sale for a bargain price. That’s what happened at the Hotline Pink Thrift Shop in Kitty Hawk, N.C., when Wendy Hawkins came across an otherwise ignored piece of art.

[. . .]

The item turned out to be a 1950s woodcut print that was created and signed by Spanish surrealist painter Salvador Dalí. It is part of a series of 100 illustrations depicting Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy, a 14th century Italian poem about the writer’s fictional journey from the deepest circles of hell, up the mountain of purgatory and finally to paradise.

[. . .]

Dalí was initially commissioned by the Italian government to make the series in honor Dante’s birthday celebration but outrage over a Spaniard taking on an Italian poet’s work led officials to drop it. However, the artist had become so taken by the project that he couldn’t let it go. In the end he created a series of 100 watercolor paintings — one for each chapter of Dante’s book — that were reproduced as wood engravings. Each of those required about 35 separate blocks to complete the image

[. . .]

It’s called Purgatory Canto 32 and it shows a woman in blue next to a man in red.”    –Vanessa Romo, NPR, March 10, 2020

“Observations on Heaven from Dante’s Paradiso That Also Apply to These Stills of Linda Hamilton”

“In a literary and historicist sense, Dante’s Divine Comedy was a multi-volume narrative poem that advanced some notable theological suppositions about the afterlife as well as some hot takes about Italian political and religious figures of the age and also working in some somewhat yikes fantasies about Dante’s crush, Beatrice, and idealized bromance with dead poet Virgil. In a looser, more abstract, in some ways more honest sense, though, Dante’s hysterically adulating depictions of Heaven and his crush Beatrice hanging out in it in Paradiso are also about what a fucking unreal silver fox Linda Hamilton is in the latest Terminator offering, Dark Fate. (Mackenzie Davis gays, you will have your day; this one is mine.)

When Dante was writing about being so overcome with emotion at the luminous landscape of Paradise that he was unable to speak, he may have been originally referencing an extremely specific medieval Catholic spiritual concept — but we have the benefit of centuries of context and wisdom that Dante did not, and can see that in another, more accurate way, they also reference the fact that Linda Hamilton remains an untouchable smokeshow, and is arguably even more of one than when she originally featured as my root in Terminator 2.”    –Rachel, Autostraddle, October 9, 2019

Gary Panter, Songy of Paradise (2017)

Gary-Panter-Songy-of-Paradise“The final issue of Jimbo – #7 – chronicles Jimbo’s descent into Hell, represented on the page as an abandoned mall. The comic is a scant 33 pages long, but Fantagraphics decided to make a big deal of it: they repackaged Jimbo #7 as Jimbo’s Inferno, a gigantic, 11×15 hardcover book, and followed it with Jimbo in Purgatory.

“The wider reading public began to notice what Panter was doing: each page corresponded to a canto in Dante’s classic poems. Though the improvisational-looking drawings were of robots or monsters or yokels on tractors, they were all part of a highly complex representational scheme that paid homage to, and made fun of, Dante all at once.

“The last volume in the trilogy ships this month: Songy of Paradise merges Dante’s Paradiso with Milton’s Paradise Regained, and tells the story of Jesus’s temptation in the desert, with a gap-toothed hillbilly named Songy taking the place of Jesus (Panter: ‘I didn’t want to deal with Jesus’).” –Sam Thielman, “Gary Panter: The Cartoonist Who Took a Trip to Hell and Back,” The Guardian, July 18, 2017

See also our previous post on Gary Panter’s 2006 graphic novel Jimbo’s Inferno here.

Dante’s Table, Castro, San Francisco

Dantes-Table-SF-Restaurant“[Owner Francesco] D’Ippolito is a fan of Italian poetry, especially Dante’s three-part Divine Comedy, which is why he named his first restaurant Poesia. For Dante’s Table, he hired muralist John Baden […] to do bold and colorful, Dante-inspired works for the walls of the restaurant. The main dining represents Dante’s seminal epic poem, Inferno, with the hallway leading to the rear being Purgatorio, and the back dining room and patio being Paradiso. (D’Ippolito will be making the rear area and the garden patio available for private events.) For now, as the patio gets renovated, they have a tarp up that reads ‘Paradise is Coming…’.” — Jay Barmann, “First Look at Dante’s Table, Now Open in the Castro,” Grubstreet (April 25, 2013)

Purgatory/Paradise by Throwing Muses

kristen-hersch-throwing-muses“The title of the first Throwing Muses record in a decade is Purgatory/Paradise, but frontwoman Kristin Hersh has another name for it. ‘Our pet name is Precious/Pretentious,’ she says with a laugh. Speaking from Aquidneck Island in Rhode Island, where she was raised, she says that while the title does not reference Dante – it’s actually a reference to an intersection of roads on the island – she’s happy to have escaped the inferno of making the album. ‘It took us five years to make this record and we are absolutely obsessed with it,’ she tells Rolling Stone.” [. . .]    –Kory Grow, Rolling Stone, November 29, 2013

Donna Distefano “Elixir of Love” ring and “The Love that Moves the Sun and the Other Stars” ring

 

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“Our 22 karat gold and ruby Elixir of Love ring can hold your tiniest possessions. The griffin was a legendary creature with the body of lion and the head and wings of an eagle. The combination indicates both intelligence and strength. The griffin was thought to be an especially powerful and majestic creature, renowned for guarding treasures and other priceless possessions. Our griffin is carrying a Maltese cross which is considered a symbol of protection and a badge of honor representing loyalty, generosity, bravery, and helpfulness towards others. In Dante’s Divine Comedy Beatrice takes off into the Heavens to begin Dante’s journey through paradise on a flying Griffin that moves as fast as lightning.”    —Donna Distefano

See also this brief video where she discusses a ring named “The Love that Moves the Sun and the Other Stars,” which was inspired by elements within the final cantos of Paradiso (the celestial rose, Mary), and the number 33.  In Style magazine did a piece on it, too.

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