On the occasion of the XXI Week of the Italian Language, the Italian Cultural Institute of Hamburg presents the exhibition ‘Drawing Dante‘, curated by Matteo Stefanelli, artistic director of COMICON. The exhibition, open from 5 November to 5 December 2021, includes original works by 73 Italian and international illustrators which deal with themes from Dante’s work.
In the history of Italian culture, Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy has been a decisive model not only for literary creations, but also for visual art. People began to create illustrations for the Divine Comedy almost immediately after it was written, in the second quarter of the 14th century. From the unfinished project made up of 100 drawings by Sandro Botticelli in the late 15th century, to the illustrated editions by Gustave Doré in the second half of the 19th century, the Divine Comedy has established itself as a fundamental part of our visual art heritage.
In this long iconographic journey, comic books have been responsible for some of the most celebrated and striking examples. Due to the evocative and visual nature of Dante’s narrative, generations of illustrator-narrators have found it almost necessary to tackle the power of the Divine Comedy’s imagery. The encounter between cartoonists and the Divine Comedy has been and, still is today, a challenge.
‘Drawing Dante‘ is not simply an exhibition in honour of the poet, but a real art production project. Manuele Fior, Fabiana Fiengo, Giulio Rincione, Spugna, Gabriella Giandelli, Eliana Albertini, Giacomo Gambineri, Silvia Rocchi, Lorenzo ‘LRNZ’ Ceccotti, Elisa Macellari, Tommy Gun and Vincenzo Filosa: each of the twelve cartoonists exhibited in “Drawing Dante” was invited to give free rein to their inspiration and to express in a sort of personal “taking roots” in Dante’s world through their work.
With hundreds of adaptations of the most diverse types, Italian comics joins a rich international history of creativity. Notable among these is ‘Mickey’s Inferno‘ by Guido Martina and Angelo Bioletto, a true gem in illustrated versions of the Divine Comedy that significantly contributed to its popularity among a young audience in the post-war period. Other masters of comics, illustration and graphics, such as Moebius, Lorenzo Mattotti, Milton Glaser, Seymour Chwast and the influential mangaka Gō Nagai have also interpreted the Divine Comedy through the medium of visual art.
With its remarkable artistic and productive momentum, ‘Drawing Dante’ aims to document the legacy of this development, highlighting a crucial force in contemporary iconographic culture: the Divine Comedy as the creative engine of Italian comics. It is a tried and tested route that is still very much alive today.
The exhibition is also complemented by 54 illustrations from the ‘Uno, nessuno e centomila volti’ (One, None, and a Hundred Thousand Faces) project, for which 150 artists from different disciplines have depicted the great poet.
For more information, go to iicamburgo.esteri.it