Sympathy for the Devil: Satan, Sin, and the Underworld

Witkin, The Devil as TailorStanford University’s Cantor Arts Center is running an exhibit focused on the tradition of portraying Hell and the Devil in art, titled “Sympathy for the Devil: Satan, Sin, and the Underworld“. It explores the way the concept of the Devil has changed throughout the Western canon; we can think about how Dante’s silent Satan in frozen Hell fits into the story.

The exhibit’s description reads:

“The Cantor has Rodin’s famous masterwork the Gates of Hell. As Jackson Pollock’s important painting Lucifer comes to Stanford as part of the Anderson Collection, it is interesting to explore the visual history of the Devil and his realm. Also known as Satan, Lucifer, Mephistopheles, etc., the Devil and Hell itself are only briefly mentioned in the Bible; yet this source inspired artists.

“During the period from about 1500 to 1900, the Devil evolved from the bestial adversary of Christ to a rebellious, romantic hero or shrewd villain. In the 20th century this long tradition of graphic representation largely disappeared, as Hell came to be seen as an aspect of this world and its denizens as ‘other people.’ 

“Based upon the collections at Stanford and augmented by several loans, this exhibition traces the dominant Western tradition over approximately four centuries. A variety of prints, drawings, sculpture, and paintings— including works by Albrecht Dürer, Hendrick Goltzius, Jacques Callot, Gustav Doré, Max Beckmann, and Jerome Witkin—reveal how artists visualized Satan and his infernal realm and draw inspiration from religious sources and accounts by Homer, Dante, Virgil, and Milton.”

The exhibit runs from August 20th, 2014, until December 1st, 2014, and is open to the public.