Dante’s Dream is Christian Lemmerz’s biggest and most ambitious artwork on paper. Together, the 18 drawings form a monumental work measuring 900 x 900 cm. It was originally created for the GHOST exhibition at ARoS in 2010, where it was presented as a single work of art. In 2017, Randers Museum of Art presented the drawings as individual chapters in a journey through Hell in the exhibition LUST // Christian Lemmerz & Jenny Holzer. The donation from the New Carlsberg Foundation ensures that Dante’s Dream is preserved in a public museum collection.
While the title refers to Dante’s Divine Comedy (1321–25), the format of Dante’s Dream was inspired by Michelangelo’s The Last Judgment (1537–41) in the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican City. Like Michelangelo, Lemmerz portrays naked muscular figures in intense movements and complicated positions. In Michelangelo’s picture Christ occupies a central role, dividing the blessed from the damned. In Lemmerz’s version, salvation and divine intervention do not appear to be on hand. Judgment has been passed and is painstakingly depicted in the suffering of the damned; a horrifying chaos, explicitly portrayed in a writhing mess of cannibalism, paedophilia and torture. However, rather than being an old-testament-style moralizing confirmation of the Biblical story of Judgment Day, Dante’s Dream exemplifies how Lemmerz as a ‘non-believing religious artist’ explores his relationship with the Catholic faith and, not least, its interpretations of the concepts of lust, sin and punishment.
About Christian Lemmerz
Christian Lemmerz (b. 1959 in Karlsruhe, Germany) lives and works in Copenhagen and in Pietrasanta, Italy. He trained at the Academy of Fine Arts Carrara in Italy and at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen. Lemmerz’s artistic practice revolves around the big existential questions which he explores in sculpture, drawings, film and performance art. His expression is based in the idiom of the Renaissance and neo-classicism but is typically rephrased into more contemporary fragmented images.
Lemmerz has exhibited frequently in Denmark and abroad, and his works are widely represented in Danish art museums. In 2010 he was awarded a life-time grant from the Danish Arts Foundation. He has also received the Eckersberg Medail (1998), the Thorvaldsen Medal (2009) and the New Carlsberg Foundation’s artist’s grant (2015).