“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

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

Inferno.Etude – Vartan

“… Vartan, a queer former Orthodox Jew from Chechnya whose sculptures and paintings mostly explore demonic and sexual themes. ‘My work always shows a state of human spirit,’ he tells The Creators Project. ‘Demons and angels, pain and uncontrollable desire, fear and loneliness. The naked body in sculpture represents a spiritual condition. I am not interested in ‘politically correct’ art because it’s boring. Shock, controversy, and honesty. These are the three principles of my art.'”    –Anya Tchoupakov, Vice, November 19, 2015

Shown at left is Vartan’s sculpture Inferno.Etude.

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

In Dante Veritas, Vasily Klyukin

In Dante Veritas is a large scale, immersive multimedia exhibition by Russian sculptor Vasily Klyukin. It represents a narrative that recreates the nine circles of hell, and includes over 100 multimedia elements, such as sculpture, installation, digital art, audio and light boxes. The exhibitions includes sculptural works, most of which represent negative human traits such as Anger, Gluttony and Betrayal.

“The most prominent sculptural pieces are the Four Horsemen of the Modern Apocalypse. The artist has translated the traditional Horsemen (plague, war, hunger and death) into a modern day version: Overpopulation, Misinformation, Extermination and Pollution.

[. . .]

“The immersive exhibition encourages visitors to examine the sculptures with an audio guide narrated in the style of Dante’s poems. The sculptures of human sins also portray the punishment that comes with the sin. For instance, Gluttony is incredibly obese and Temptation has no limbs.

“The exhibition also includes a ‘prison’ room, further embodying the topic of sin. Famous criminals such as Stalin, Pablo Escobar and Bokassa are imprisoned here. The prison has a dungeon room – Betrayal – which represents Hell. Visitors are encouraged to leave notes on the wall, allowing them to name people who have betrayed them, or to write a message of forgiveness.

“The exhibition ends on a positive note. The Heart of Hope is a large sculpture of a heart at the centre of the exhibition, which was also displayed at the Burning Man festival in 2017. It symbolises the ability to stop all the negative traits and sins. Visitors are given a bracelet which transmits a signal to the statue, which then beats in the rhythm of the bracelet wearer’s heartbeat.”    —Elucid Magazine

Fritz Koenig, “Paolo und Francesca” (1958)

Among German sculptor Fritz Koenig’s oeuvre one finds a number of works that take inspiration from Dante, particularly mediated through Rodin’s sculpture groups in his Gates of Hell. Below, “Paolo und Francesca” from 1958.

Fritz-Koenig-Paolo-und-Francesca-1958

Photo credit Heinz Theuerkauf (Flickr)

Koenig’s work was celebrated with a retrospective at the Gallerie degli Uffizi in 2018.

Contributed by Jessica Beasley (Florida State University, 2018)

An American Werewolf In London (1981)

In John Landis’ 1981 cult classic An American Werewolf In London, at 65:30 you can see a bust of Dante Alighieri in the Doctor’s study.

You can watch the full movie on Amazon Prime, Youtube, Google Play, Vudu, and on iTunes.

Yves Guérin’s Divine comédie Sculptures

Yves-Guerin-Divine-Comedie-Montpeyroux“L’Enfer, le Purgatoire, le Paradis… Yves Guérin s’est inspiré de l’œuvre de Dante pour créer trois sculptures monumentales, exposées à Montpeyroux. […]

“Pour cela, il a choisi, depuis plusieurs années, de façonner des rails de chemin de fer. «Il faut lui faire cracher quelque chose à la matière.» Et lui faire raconter une histoire. En l’occurrence, celle de la Divine comédie, de Dante. «Un texte qui m’a toujours impressionné et que je réinterprète.»

“L’Enfer a ainsi pris place dans la carrière du village, le Purgatoire sur le promontoire et le Paradis, création haute de 11 mètres, sur l’esplanade. «J’ai vraiment souhaité exploiter ces trois lieux.» Des espaces qui se complètent à merveille. Il suffit d’observer, au pied de la carrière, la sculpture du Purgatoire qui se dresse dans la perspective de l’Enfer. Tout un symbole. «J’ai toujours eu des questionnements sur le devenir de l’humanité, ce qu’il reste des choses», confie l’artiste.” — Marion Chavot, “Le sculpteur expose trois de ses œuvres jusqu’à la fin de l’année,” La Montagne, June 24, 2016

Contributed by Giuseppe Sangirardi (Université de Lorraine)

“La Divina Brick-Commedia,” Fabio Broggi

“Ho ripercorso il viaggio di Dante attraverso l’utilizzo dei mattoncini più famosi al mondo. Le diverse immagini rappresentano altrettanti passaggi del poeta lungo la discesa nei gironi infernali, fino all’incontro con Lucifero e la sua fuoriuscita nell’emisfero australe.” — Fabio Broggi

See Fabio Broggi’s Instagram account (@ilcarota) for more images from La Divina Brick-Commedia.

Summer Exhibition of Marble Carvings at the Casa Galiano (2018)

The Casa Galiano (East Brunswick, NJ) presents an outdoor exhibition of 18 marble carvings of the Divine Comedy. The carvings are on exhibit in summer and fall 2018. For more information, visit the Casa Galiano website.

Casa-Galiano-Farinata

Virgil and the pilgrim meet Farinata

While visiting, be sure to check out the Dante Sculpture Garden and Wall Mural, featured on Dante Today here.

Contributed by Dino Galiano