The ten-metre print, made in eight parts, shows Dante and Virgil’s descent into Hell as described by Dante Alighieri in his Divine Comedy, 1321. The prints show an inverted mountainscape in negative inscribed with text, marks, splashes, and collaged elements. The source is a found image: a series of nineteenth century photographs of a mountainous panorama.
In Sandro Botticelli’s epic manuscript interpretation of Divine Comedy, Dante and Virgil are sequentially repeated like cyphers in the singular drawing bringing, to Dean’s mind, a sense of cinematic timing to the Map of Hell. Dean has appropriated this idea by using circles to represent the figures: glossy and opaque for the living Dante and translucent for the shade Virgil. Dean has also experimented with embedding collaged elements into the gravure process for the first time.
The vast print project relates to Dean’s design for Inferno, part of The Dante Project, a commissioned ballet based on the Divine Comedy with music by Thomas Adès and choreography by Wayne McGregor. The Dante Project premieres on 14 October and runs until 30 October 2021.
Learn more about Tacita Dean