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The Danteum

Jay Rogers

2016    Size   H: 5 in  W: 17 in  D: 13 in  

Available for Purchase

Commissioned by Benito Mussolini in 1938 and designed by Giuseppi Terragni to dominate the Roman Forum, the Danteum was never built. It was conceived of as a monument to Dante, and hence, by association, to the glory of Italian culture. To my mind it is the purest example of modern fantasy architecture, as it is designed as an allegorical and geometrical translation into three dimensions, of Dante's journey in "The Divine Comedy". A handful of surviving plans and a half-finished model show that the journey was to lead from an open courtyard into a court of 100 columns (representing the "dark wood" of the Comedy's opening lines). From there one proceeded to a room representing Hell, and on to another representing Purgatory, and finally one climbed to the Paradise room, with its 33 glass columns supporting a glass roof. On the ground floor underneath the Hell and Purgatory rooms was to be a library dedicated to Dante's writings; it turned out to be the perfect place for me to put a hidden drawer. With the rest, I tried to stay as close as I could to the plans while still aiming for a beautiful box. The wood is bird's eye maple, and there are four compartments in all.

This is a close-up of the open courtyard leaning to the 'dark wood' area.

This is a close-up of the Paradise Room, with its glass columns and roof.


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