Divinely inspired

‘Arte che genera arte’ exhibit remembers Dante

Alexa Di Julio
November 2, 2006

Florentines and foreigners alike should look forward to the next big heat wave about to hit the city.  No, the heat will not be coming from the sky, as it did all summer and fall, but instead from the underworld.  From Nov. 15 to 17, scholars and artists from the US, Russia, and all parts of Italy will travel to Florence to rethink, rediscover, and revive one of the city’s most prized locals, Dante Alighieri.


While Dante’s Divine Comedy may be one of the most challenging pieces of literature ever written, the event entitled ‘Dante: Arte che Genera Arte,’ or ‘Dante: Art Generating Art,’ might make Dante’s work more accessible for the ‘average Joe.’  Folks can expect to see various exhibits of art, new works of poetry, and note-worthy discussions taking place all over the city during the conference.

Semicerchio, the Journal of Comparative Poetry, and the Gabinetto Vieusseux are in charge of the event, and are looking to ‘make the vitality of Dante known abroad as well as in Florence,’ said co-organizer Antonella Francini.  They should have no trouble reaching this goal, considering the guest-list.  The former US Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky, Pulitzer Prize winner Yusef Komunyakaa, and celebrated Italian poet and author Edoardo Sanguineti will all attend, along with two of Russia’s most renowned poets, Elena Svarc and Olga Sedakova. At the conference, the five poets will debut their latest works, all inspired by Dante.


Do not fret if poetry is not your cup of tea.  The span of Dante’s work goes well beyond poetry, as will this conference.  Award-winning American violinist Gil Morgenstern will perform his staged version of Robert Pinsky’s translated Inferno on Nov. 15, in case you missed his tour or national radio and television broadcasts in the United States.  Perhaps for those whose passion lies with the symphony and not with epic narrative verse, Dante’s concept of the underworld will be more appealing when accompanied by the violin.


In addition to music, throughout the event paintings, drawings, relief sculpture and film will also be featured in exhibitions. An exhibit of Tuscan artist Quinto Martini’s work, titled ‘Visual Poetry,’ will open at Syracuse University’s Art Gallery on Nov. 16 and will run through Nov. 26.  The gallery will display Martini’s bas-reliefs that focus on scenes of the Inferno, and his lithographs illustrating every canto of the Divine Comedy.  Viewers will easily recognize the 18 years of work that Martini put into his visual translation when they observe the drawings he created in preparation for the production of the final series, some of which be displayed as well.


‘Artists for Dante,’ another exhibit supplementing the conference, will run from Nov. 17 to 27 at the Casa di Dante. Featured works date back to the beginning of the 20th century and include media ranging from paintings to graphical design and video.  American artist Michael Mazur created yet another accompaniment for Pinsky’s translation of the Inferno in illustration form, to be displayed with this exhibit downtown. 


Dante’s influence has not faltered in the last 700 years, so it is safe to say that he will not be checking out any time soon.  This conference will give participants a means to appreciate his influence thus far, and motivate people to participate in the next 700 years of Dante’s ongoing impact.  In the poet’s own words, E le palle dell’oro/ Fiorian Fiorenza in tutt’I suoi gran fatti (‘At that time the golden globes/ Decked out Florence on all great occasions’).  ‘Dante: Arte che Genera Arte’ is one of those great occasions when Florence will be all decked out and every person, whether poet, musician, or art buff, will find some type of Paradiso.

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