Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens

Left: Library Building, Right: Virginia Scott Gallery, 1999, photos by John Hazeltine

San Marino, CA

(626) 405-2141


Ruth Weisberg: Canto V: A Whirlwind of Lovers

November 17, 1999 - January 30, 2000


A mural-size composition by artist Ruth Weisberg, inspired by Dante's Inferno, will be on view in The Huntington's Virginia Steele Scott Gallery. Created specially for The Huntington by Weisberg, dean of the School of Fine Arts at the University of Southern California, the mural measures 12 feet by 24 feet and is executed on gessoed paper with pencil and watercolor. "Canto V: A Whirlwind of Lovers" grew out of a visit made by Weisberg to The Huntington almost three years ago to view works by William Blake from the museum's collection.

The artist's imagination was sparked by Blake's illustration to Canto V of Dante's Inferno as well as by the poet's own description of the second circle of Hell, where the lustful are swept along by strong winds like starlings in a winter sky. The adulterous lovers of Dante's poem seem doomed to spiral through eternity in a passionless embrace. In Weisberg's monumental painting--a pensive exploration of the nature of passion and love--couples come together but remain emotionally separate, suggesting that despite the intensity of the moment in which the lovers should be transported, there is no true merging of spirits.

Weisberg will discuss her work during a gallery talk about the exhibit on Sunday, November 21, at 2:30. The talk will be repeated on Sunday, January 9, at 2:30.

Images from top to bottom: Ruth Weisberg, Out of the Whirlwind, 1999, 37 1/2 x 29 3/4 inches, mixed media drawing; Ruth Weisberg working on Canto V: A Whirlwind of Lovers, overall dimensions 12 x 24 feet. Images courtesy of the artist.

rev. 11/1/10

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