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Michael Mazur: The Inferno of Dante
In the early 14th century, Dante Alighieri wrote The Inferno, one of the most celebrated poems of all time. Since then, readers have seen themselves and their neighbors in its timeless investigation of human frailty, and artists have repeatedly turned to the poem as a source of inspiration.
In a project that extended through the 1990s, painter/printmaker Michael Mazur and poet Robert Pinsky collaborated on the production of a new illustrated translation of The Inferno. Mazur said that in grappling with Dante, he reinvigorated his own artistic creativity. Pinsky, who became Poet Laureate of the United States in 1997, credited Mazur’s imagery with deepening his own understanding of the poem. In a shift from the practice of earlier artists, Mazur did not show Dante travelling through hell; instead, he showed his interpretation of what Dante saw. Mazur’s investigation of The Inferno involved series produced in various mediums culminating in a grand portfolio of etchings, the entirety of which appears alongside a selection of Dante’s verses translated by Pinsky. This is an opportunity to join two gifted modern artists–one working with images, the other with words–in their exploration of the depths of The Inferno, and of the human spirit itself.