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

Adam Zgol’s Purgatorio Score

Dante’s Purgatorio Through Music” showcases a piano composition by Adam Zgol (DeMatha High School ’21, Hyattsville, MD), created as an assignment for DeMatha ethics and theology instructor Homer Twigg’s unit on Purgatorio. The composition was presented at the Academic Symposium at Catholic University (Washington, D.C.) in Spring 2020.

The whole composition is available to listen to on Soundcloud.

We thank Adam Zgol and Homer Twigg for their permission to share these files.

Mountain of Purgatory in Minecraft

In 2019, Juniors Jack Batton and Connor Smith of DeMatha High School (Hyattsville, MD) designed a playable Minecraft version of the Mountain of Purgatory as their final project for DeMatha theology instructor Homer Twigg’s unit on the Purgatorio. The mountain is organized by terrace, each labeled with corresponding cantos. The terraces depict figures of the penitents engaged in their purgations; pictured at left is the wall of fire on the terrace of Lust. The project was presented at the Academic Symposium at Catholic University in Spring 2019, and a video walkthrough of the world is accessible on YouTube (last accessed April 24, 2020).

In early 2020, Jonas Long, Chris Allen, Thomas Mesafint, Gray Griffin, Seth Barnes (DeMatha HS) took the original concept developed by Batton and Smith and greatly expanded on it in terms of size, detail and complexity. They also have made their map publicly accessible for other teachers and students of Dante to explore and contribute to in the future. Screenshots (right; below) are of the server, and instructions to access the server can be found here (last accessed April 24, 2020).

We thank the designers and Homer Twigg for their permission to share the documents.

“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

“Dante Rides Again” at Potsdam Museum

An interactive reading of Walter Noble’s translation of the Divine Comedy in Potsdam, New York, taking place on November 10, 2019.

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.

Dante’s Purgatory – Love Gone Wrong / Love Redeemed

“Come and join us in an afternoon filled with dance of lust & envy and of silent movement, choir of extraordinary voices, and medieval Italian electronic dance music.”    –@lovegonewrong, Facebook, October 29, 2015

“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.

The Nine Circles of Survey Research Hell

“When Dante Alighieri was composing the Inferno section of his epic poem, the Divine Comedy, he was surely thinking of online survey content and execution. Okay, maybe he was thinking of something else. Nonetheless, Dante’s visionary landscape of falling into a place where everything around you burns to ruin can apply to various situations. It certainly applies to how shoddy survey research can incinerate your market research. Let’s keep it heavenly then, by avoiding these survey circle hells.”

“First Circle (Limbo): This place (or state of being) is not that bad. It’s full of nice gardens where pagans like Plato, Virgil and Julius Caesar hang out. They never had a chance to convert to Dante’s religion, but get a pass for being notable and thus hang out in blandness for eternity.

“Here on earth, that’s the problem when it comes to market research. Nothing happens. You’ve released a survey, and it’s as quiet as a Nickelback internet fan site. Response rates are low. Why is this happening?

“How to get out of this hell: There are many explanations, as you will see, found by plunging deeper into the rest of the survey circle hells.” […]   –qSample, qSample, April 4, 2016

Dante’s Psychological Comedy

[…] “My own background is in psychoanalysis, and I have recently translated the Purgatorio in an attempt to get as close as possible to the actual movement of Dante’s thought. It is “a psychology” in a certain sense, but not a precursor of the modern science. It differs from what we think of as science in at least two respects…”

D.M. Black, Los Angeles Review of Books, July 7, 2019