Michael Mazur
“The Inferno of Dante” and “Dante:  A Different Paradise”
September 6 – October 27, 2006

USC Fisher Gallery
823 Exposition Blvd., Los Angeles, California 90089-0292
Contact: Lisa Merighi
(213) 740-5537, fax (213) 740-7676
Web site,
Gallery hours, Tuesday – Saturday, 12-5pm

Michael Mazur, “Canto IXii, The Gate of the City of Dis”, 1999, etching and aquatint


Los Angeles, CA—The Inferno of Dante, a complete suite of 41 original etchings by Michael Mazur with text translated by U.S. Poet Laureate, Robert Pinsky, and Michael Mazur and Dante: A Different Paradise, a group of 28 drawings, prints and paintings, to be viewed at the USC Fisher Gallery from September 6 through October 28, 2006.

Michael Mazur (b. 1935) is a nationally recognized artist, one of the most prominent artistic figures in the Boston area, and is considered a leader in the monotype and monoprint movement. Mazur has also constantly forged into new aesthetic territory, experimenting with new techniques and media with equal success throughout his long career. His oeuvre is a hybrid sum of a range of literary and visual concerns, Western and Asian aesthetic traditions, and is characterized by a restless experimentation with techniques and media. He has produced prints, paintings, drawings, collages (some include the use of spray paint), and sculptures.

Michael Mazur first read The Inferno in Italian in Florence in 1957. He contemplated illustrating this classic text but set it aside. Trying it again during the Vietnam War, he completed only a few plates. His desire to illustrate the text was reawakened upon hearing his friend, Robert Pinsky, read from his first translations of two cantos in 1992. Their collaboration involved a parallel creation of poetry and images. Mazur made black and white monotypes from which thirty-six were selected to accompany the translation (published in 1994 by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux). For the six years between 1994 and 2000 he created this suite of 41 etchings, wanting to expand his vision and share the original prints with a larger audience.

The exhibition, toured by Curatorial Assistance, Inc., Pasadena, California, has been designed to allow the viewer to read the text comfortably under each image. Nearly a quarter of the poem is presented in a version of the original Italian and translated into English by Robert Pinsky. The poem deftly incorporates “Terza Rima,” the three line stanzas in which it was written. Its presentation has been hailed as remarkable, full of the drama and momentum of the Italian verse and without the strain and parody that has often made the poem inaccessible. “Mazur, unlike many of his
predecessors who have explored the infinite possibilities of Dantesque imagery, has remained true to his personal itinerary of innovation within his own artistic vision. He never opts for the obvious or the easily identifiable, but chooses instead solutions that are destined to remain in a timeless dimension,” says Giorgio Marini, Curator of Graphic Arts, Museo di Castelvecchio,Verona, Italy.

Concurrently with The Inferno of Dante by Michael Mazur, the USC Fisher Gallery presents Michael Mazur and Dante: A Different Paradise, an exhibition of 28 drawings, prints, and paintings ranging from 1968 to the present curated by Ariadni A. Liokatis. “The first part of the materials on display directly relate to the Inferno –preparatory studies and precursor works” says Liokatis, Associate Curator of Exhibitions at the USC Fisher Gallery, “while the other pieces can be described as the “un-Inferno” aspect of this work —idealized and articulated evocative abstract landscapes and his most recent symbolist work with references to nature, the body and the passage of time.” These works are, as Michael Mazur puts it, “the extension of, and perhaps, the antidote to The Inferno!”

Michael Mazur and Dante: A Different Paradise will feature drawings, prints and paintings in two galleries. These works span from prints and monotypes that have a direct relation to the Dante project—which has proven to be a lifelong undertaking and fascination for the artist—to a selection of the artist's most recent works. In particular, 1994 was marked by a radical shift in the artist’s work departing from his origins in representation. He started painting evocative abstracted landscapes influenced by Chinese painting and calligraphy with a rich array of colors and textures, and painterly calligraphic-looking brushstrokes, the genesis of which can be found in a series of works exploring the body metaphor resulting from a traumatic heart operation. They reveal an Asian conception of nature as embodying states of mind while remaining steeped in Western art. Mazur’s latest highly symbolist body of work evolved from a 2003 hospital stay where the artist, unable to paint, engaged in spontaneous doodling. The artist started with stencils (cutouts of abstract designs), and made collages that eventually became studies for mostly spray-painted pieces, which reveal systems of arbitrary abstract shapes connected to organic forms, geometric elements morphing with organic forms rendered in a lush and painterly brushwork.

Michael Mazur has been shown in over eighty solo and many more group exhibitions during his career. A retrospective of his work opened at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in 2000 and traveled to Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers University, Stanford Museum of Art, and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. A catalogue raisonné of Mazur’s prints was published. Mazur’s work is in the permanent collections of The Art Institute of Chicago; Brooklyn Museum of Art; British Museum of Art; Cincinnati Art Museum; Cleveland Museum of Art; Decordova Museum Lincoln, MA; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; McNay Museum of Art, San Antonio, TX; Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; Minneapolis Art Institute; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Museum of Modern Art, NY; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Smithsonian American Art Museum; Whitney Museum of American Art, NY; Yale University Art Gallery and Zimmerli Museum, Rutgers University, NJ.

Exhibition Catalogue
The shows are accompanied by full-color catalogues. To order, please contact Fisher Gallery at (213) 740-4561.

About USC Fisher Gallery
Fisher Gallery is the accredited art museum of the University of Southern California. Since its opening in 1939, Fisher Gallery has grown significantly in stature and prominence as the museum of USC. In addition to showing the permanent collection, the Gallery presents traveling exhibitions and organizes its own successful exhibitions, offering the campus and community, as well as the greater Los Angeles area, a wide variety of changing exhibitions. Fisher Gallery offers programming to support its exhibitions such as lectures, artist’s talks, film screening, concerts, and poetry readings.

General Information
For general information, press information, images, or to schedule an interview, call (213) 740-5537.

Museum Hours and Admission
Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, noon to 5 pm; closed Sunday and Monday. Admission to the exhibition and all related events are free. Call (213) 740-4561 or visit for more information.

Related Events and Activities
Thursday, September 7, 6:00 PM at the Alfred Newman Recital Hall, Hancock Building, Image and Text. A Dialogue with Robert Pinsky and Michael Mazur
Tuesday, September 12, Noon, Visions of Hell in Renaissance Art, a lecture by Eunice Howe
Tuesday, September 19, Noon, Dead Writing, Vital Signs, and Interpretation in Dante's Divine Comedy, a lecture by William G. Thalmann
Thursday, September 21, Noon, Curatorial Walkthrough. Ariadni Liokatis leads a tour of the exhibition Michael Mazur and Dante: A Different Paradise
Saturday, September 23, 2:00 – 4:00 PM, Families at Fisher
Wednesday, September 27, Noon, “Girls Gone Wild”: Virgins to Courtesans in Medieval and Renaissance Italian Literature, a lecture by Margaret Rosenthal
Thursday, October 5, 2:00 – 3:00 PM, Museum Studies Open Classroom. Selma Holo and Michael Quick discuss current interdisciplinary possibilities for university museums
Thursday, October 5, 3:00 – 4:15 PM, A Hell of a Time, a conversation with Selma Holo, Joshua Holo and William G. Thalmann
Friday, October 6, 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM, Gallery Open House
Tours of the exhibitions will be offered at the top of the hour from 10 until 4.
Tuesday, October 24, 4:00—5:30 PM, Sheer Paint, Sheer Poetry. A Poetry Reading by USC Undergraduate Student Writers

Events take place at USC Fisher Gallery, unless otherwise noted. Admission to events is free. RSVP to (213) 740-5537 or For additional information, please visit our website at

Return to Gallery Pages