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Posted on: September 6, 2021

Springfield Art Museum Mounts Dante’s Inferno Exhibition During 700th Anniversary of Poet’s Death

a black and white image of a tower on the right, rising up out of a hazy black mist

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

Springfield, MO. (September 6, 2021) – The Springfield Art Museum is pleased to present The Inferno of Dante: Etchings by Michael Mazur, opening Saturday, September 18 at 10 AM. September 2021 marks the 700th anniversary of the death of poet Dante Alighieri. To mark this occasion, the Museum will show painter and printmaker Michael Mazur’s full portfolio of 41 etchings illustrating The Inferno, the first and most familiar of three sections of The Divine Comedy, written by Dante in the 14th century.

The Divine Comedy recounts a journey that defines the human condition, exploring sin, weakness, despair, sadness, and loss. Told in the first person, it follows Dante and his guide, the Roman poet Virgil, as they travel through Hell, Purgatory, and eventually Paradise. Countless artists have been inspired by The Divine Comedy, including Gustave Doré, William Blake, and Auguste Rodin.

Michael Mazur had a lifelong fascination with the poem. In the early 1990s, Mazur and longtime friend poet Robert Pinsky (U.S. Poet Laureate 1997-2000) collaborated on the production of a new illustrated translation of The Inferno. This initial project was later expanded into a portfolio of etchings. This exhibit pairs each of Mazur’s monotypes with the relevant excerpted portions of Dante’s poem in Italian with English translations by Pinsky.

Traditionally, illustrations of the poem have included the figures of Dante and Virgil. Notably, Mazur chose “absolutely not to put Dante and Virgil in these images. I wanted to show the things they saw, not to show them seeing – so that there would be no distance between you and the image.” In these works, the audience takes the place of Dante and Virgil as they travel through The Inferno. Viewers become Dante and Virgil’s eyes and see what they see as the story unfolds.

See The Inferno of Dante: Etchings by Michael Mazur in our Weisel and Kelly Galleries from September 18 through February 20, 2022. This exhibition is pulled from the Museum’s permanent collection. Financial assistance for this project has been provided by the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency. The Springfield Art Museum is located at 1111 East Brookside Drive. Admission is always free. Donations are gratefully accepted.

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The Springfield Art Museum is Springfield, Missouri’s oldest cultural institution, founded in 1928. A department of the City of Springfield, the Museum invites you to connect with the world, your community, and yourself through active engagement with art objects. For more information, please visit www.sgfmuseum.org or contact Joshua Best, Museum Affairs Officer at (417) 874-2859 or jbest@springfieldmo.gov.

The Inferno of Dante: Etchings by Michael Mazur
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