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.

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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.

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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

Thinking Against Violence

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Images projected in Lyon, France, as tribute to the victims of the Paris attacks. Credit Robert Pratta/Reuters

This is an interview with Brad Evans, a senior lecturer in international relations at the University of Bristol in England. He is the founder and director of the Histories of Violence project, a global research initiative on the meaning of mass violence in the 21st century.

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[…] “But let’s consider for a moment what the thinker [the sculpture by Rodin] is actually contemplating. Sat alone on his plinth, the thinker could in fact be thinking about anything in particular. We just hope it is something serious. Such ambiguity was not however as Rodin intended. In the original 1880 sculpture, the thinker actually appears kneeling before the Gates of Hell. We might read this as significant for a whole number of reasons. First, it is the “scene of violence,” which gives specific context to Rodin’s thinker. Thought begins for the thinker in the presence of the raw realities of violence and suffering. The thinker in fact is being forced to suffer into truth.

“Second, there is an interesting tension in terms of the thinker’s relationship to violence. Sat before the gates, the thinker appears to be turning away from the intolerable scene behind. This we could argue is a tendency unfortunately all too common when thinking about violence today. Turning away into abstraction or some scientifically neutralizing position of “objectivity.” And yet, according to one purposeful reading, the figure in this commission is actually Dante, who is contemplating the circles of hell as narrated in The Divine Comedy. This is significant. Rather than looking away, might it be that the figure is now actually staring directing into the abyss below? Hence raising the fundamental ethical question of what it means to be forced witness to violence?” […]   –Natasha Lennard and Brad Evans, The New York Times, December 16, 2015

Ettore Ximenes’ 1921 statue, Meridian Hill Park (Washington, D.C.)

Ettore-Ximenes-Dante-Alighieri-Washington-Meridian-HillDante Alighieri stands in Meridian Hill Park in Washington, D.C.  Commissioned by Carlo Barsotti as a gift on behalf of “the Italians in the United States,” Italian artist Ettore Ximenes sculpted the monument in 1921, the 600th anniversary of the poet’s death.

The statue was included in the Smithsonian’s Save Outdoor Sculpture D.C. survey in 1994, and was featured in a 2014 Washington Post editorial called “Monument Madness,” where it lost to a statue of Jim Henson and Kermit the Frog in the Elite 8.

Contributed by Aisha Woodward (Bowdoin, ’07)

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Emerging Artists: Dante and Ceramics (2014)

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“It was a cracked plate that almost ended up in the scrap heap.

“Instead of throwing it away, 17-year-old Jesus Vazquez fashioned it into an award-winning piece of ceramic art.” [ . . . ]

“Rather than discard the slightly cracked plate, Vazquez broke it into multiple sections. He applied different surface decorations to each piece. Using metal wire, he sewed the pieces together again, recreating the original plate.

“For one section, Vazquez took pages from Dante Alighieri’s 14th-century epic poem Divine Comedy, burned them with a blow torch and glued them on the plate.

“Vazquez said he was seeking a literary reference for hell, fire, evil and associated concepts. ‘There’s a video game called “Dante’s Inferno,” and I had read parts of the book as well,’ he said. ‘What intrigued me the most is how it explains evil. It’s not that I like evil. It shows the extremes that people are willing to go.'”   –Stephen Wall, “Riverside: Student’s broken plate wins art award,” The Press Enterprise, May 18, 2014

Zachary Woolfe, “A Circle of Composers, Intimate and Epic”

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“There is an operatic quality coursing through the work of the Second Empire sculptor Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux (1827-75), the subject of a powerful exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, through May 26, that inspired a concert of French vocal music at the museum on Saturday evening.

“Look at Carpeaux’s best-known masterpiece, the wrenching ‘Ugolino and his Sons’ based on Dante: Here are both epic scope and intimate detail (those clenched feet!), the combination that 19th-century opera specialized in. It’s no surprise, given the adroitness of his balance between exuberance and restraint, that he was asked to design a relief for the exterior of Charles Garnier’s opera house in Paris. The result, a swirling mass of figures called ‘La Danse,’ fairly explodes off the facade.”    –Zachary Woolfe, “A Circle of Composers, Intimate and Epic,” The New York Times, April 29, 2014

Cleaning the ‘Gates of Hell’

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“Somebody has got to keep the Gates of Hell safe from the elements. Meet the students on Stanford’s outdoor sculpture preservation crew. They conduct preventative maintenance on Rodin’s Gates of Hell and 100 other outdoor sculptures across campus. In other words, they get lots of hands-on-the-art experience because they have permission to touch.

“Given the nature of their work, which combines art and science, it’s no surprise that the crew, led by Elizabeth Saetta, is an extension of the Cantor Arts Center’s Art+Science Learning Lab, run by Susan Roberts-Manganelli.” […]

” ‘Regular care protects the sculpture from exposure to the elements, pests and public, and also prevents the need for invasive conservation treatment or repairs in the future,’ Saetta said. She is currently seeking a hands-on student to join the crew – one who’s not afraid of waxing hell.”    —Stanford Report