Dante Aligheri art exhibit showcased in the basement of Buley Library
Mary Katherine Belli – Contributor
“The path to paradise begins in Hell,” according to The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri
Between now and April 7, an art exhibition featuring a complete set of works by famous Spanish artist Salvador Dali is available for viewing at the university. These works are Dali’s depictions of the famous poem Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri.
“Art galleries are a part of a thorough education,” said chairperson of the Italian department, Giuseppina Palma. “This makes it even more accessible to those who have not read Divine Comedy. It is an incredible effect. To have the complete collection [of Dali’s works] makes us very privileged.”
The exhibition is a collection of prints of these famous works, which were originally commissioned by the Italian government in 1950, according to the email gallery director, Cort Sierpinski sent to students and faculty.
According to Sierpinski, they were found in university archives and are the property of the university. The university owns one of 382 existing copies of this collection, and the set contains 100 illustrations. The exhibition is not open to the public at the moment. As it is only open to students and faculty, the question arises of whether this sort of exhibition appeals to college students.
“Young people should be encouraged in a college setting to go beyond and explore,” said Palma. The hope is that students will take the rare opportunity to admire these works and use them to understand Dante and Dali in a new way, whether or not it pertains to their particular studies or major.
Sierpinksi described the gallery as “an amazing body of work,” and hopes that the continually rotating gallery will “bring in as many types of people as possible.”
When the question was posed to students themselves, they seemed enthusiastic about the show.
“I think art is interesting and provoking, especially in a studious place like the library. It’ll spark new thought,” psychology major Giannia Vasquez, a sophomore said.
Dante Alighieri is an Italian poet, writer and philosopher who wrote works such as “La Vita Nuova” (A New Life) and his most popular La Commedia (The Divine Comedy). This year will mark 701 years since his death. He is also known as being the “father of the Italian language,” according to the Italian Culture Foundation at Casa Belvedere.
This semester there is a literature and Italian class dedicated to his works, “Dante and His Times.” In the class students are analyzing his works and life.
“Dante narrates The Divine Comedy in the first person as his own journey to Hell and Purgatory by way of his guide Virgil, the poet of Roman antiquity who wrote the Aeneid, and then to Heaven, led by his ideal woman Beatrice, a fellow Florentine for whom he felt romantic longing but who died at a very young age. Right there that suggests this view of the afterlife is coloured by authorial wish-fulfillment: Dante gets a personal tour from his father-figure of a literary hero and the woman on whom he had a crush,” according to BBC. “In the parlance of contemporary genre writing, Dante’s version of himself in The Divine Comedy is a Mary Sue, a character written to be who the author wishes he could be, having experiences he wishes he could have.”
The pieces Dali made reflect this narrative, they are dark, twisted, and foreign. They display the nature of what Dante attempted to explore, which is the depths of human corruption and how that can be embodied as dark places, horrifying creatures, and twisted realities.