National Museum of African Art: The Divine Comedy Exhibition
April 8 through Aug. 2, 2015
Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m
National Museum of African Art
950 Independence Ave. S.W.
Washington, DC

“The Divine Comedy: Heaven, Purgatory, and Hell Revisited by Contemporary African Artists” will be on view at National Museum of African Art from April 8 through Aug. 2.

Guest curated by internationally acclaimed critic and scholar Simon Njami, with assistance at the National Museum of African Art from curator Karen Milbourne, this monumental exhibition explores the themes of Dante’s epic poem with new commissions and cutting-edge artworks by more than 40 contemporary artists from 18 African countries as well as the African diaspora.

The exhibition occupies all four levels of the museum and covers nearly 22,000 square feet. It features inspirational painting, video projection, installation, sculpture, textiles, printmaking, film, photography and collage by internationally recognized and emerging contemporary artists from the continent and diaspora, including Yinka Shonibare MBE, Wangechi Mutu, Julie Mehretu, Berry Bickle, Pélagie Gbaguidi, and Aida Muluneh whose photographs are the signature work in the exhibition.

“This dramatic exhibition will transform the museum from top to bottom and reveal some of the most compelling topics and approaches in contemporary art today,” said Milbourne.

“The Divine Comedy” was previously shown at Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt am Main and the Savannah College of Art and Design.

 For centuries, Dante’s literary work and metaphorical language has been a source of inspiration for visual artists, inspiring European masterpieces by Sandro Botticelli, Eugène Delacroix, William Blake and Salvador Dalí, among many others. Through a variety of media, this exhibition demonstrates how concepts visited in Dante’s poem transcend Western traditions and resonate with diverse contemporary cultures, belief systems and political issues. Overall, the exhibition provides a probing examination of life, death and the continued power of art to express the unspoken and intangible.

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