Campus News

“Dalí Illustrates Dante’s Divine Comedy” on view at the Georgia Museum of Art

The exhibition Dalí Illustrates Dante’s Divine Comedy is on display until June 19 at the Georgia Museum of Art.

Organized by the Las Cruces Museum of Art, Las Cruces, N.M., the exhibition is part of a three-year, 10-city national tour containing all 100 prints from Dalí’s Divine Comedy Suite.

In 1957, the Italian government commissioned Salvador Dalí (1904-1989) to illustrate Dante Alighieri’s (1265-1321) Divine Comedy. Dalí’s watercolors were to be reproduced as wood engravings and released as a limited-edition print suite in honor of the 700th anniversary of Dante’s birth. Often considered to be the greatest work of medieval European literature, the Divine Comedy, written between 1307 and 1321, describes Dante’s symbolic journey through Hell (Inferno), Purgatory (Purgatorio) and Heaven (Paradiso). The epic poem comprises three books of 33 cantos each, plus an introductory canto.

Upon receiving the commission, Dalí immediately began creating a series of 100 watercolors, each one illustrating a canto from the poem. When the project was announced to the public, Italians were outraged that a Spaniard had been chosen for it, and the commission was rescinded. Dalí, confident that a publisher could be found, continued to work.

To translate Dalí’s watercolors into printed plates, two artists hand carved 3,500 blocks, an average of 35 separate blocks per print, a process that lasted five years. French publishers Éditions les Heures Claires and Éditions Joseph Horet jointly produced the Divine Comedy Print Suite in 1964. Dalí considered this project one of the most important of his career.

The exhibition also will offer insights into other artistic representations of Dante’s Commedia-from Botticelli to Robert Rauschenberg-with a reading area organized by curator Lynn Boland.

In conjunction with the exhibition, a large-scale bronze by Dalí entitled Angel of Victory from the museum’s permanent collection will be on view in the Patsy Dudley Pate Balcony.