Amateur Art History Reports: Salvador Dali at the High Museum of Art

Dali: The Late Work

So, I finally saw the High Museum’s show on Dali and his later works.  In short, this show gave me a sublime thrill.  I loved it.  However, to say that this exhibit showed ONLY his artwork from the later years does leave a misnomer.  After all, they do show some paintings that he made as early in the 1930s.  The exhibit itself was a standard exhibit, with some quirks.  At the beginning of the show, while they display the Phillip Halsman photographs of Dali, they have this huge reproduction of his face looking like a clock that stretches from the wall to the floor.  In other words, you can walk on Dali’s face.  One photo of Dali makes a cute reference to his painting Persistence of Memory.

This photo reenacts said painting, only with Dali’s face melting instead of a clock.  Basically, Halsmann and Dali created a double self-portrait.  Another quirk came from the way the museum designed the walls.  The beginning of the exhibit had your standard issue white walls, but other rooms had walls painted with a light pink color.  The last room had walls decorated with photos of Dali with celebrities.

This show represents all Dali’s triumphs, failures, and tragedies.  This show displayed Dali’s love of technology, which makes itself an overarching theme.  From starting a religion that combined physics and religion to art done in 3D, Dali never stopped experimenting until his death in 1989.  Furthermore, this show represented Dali’s cemented status as a pop culture figure, especially with his portraits of people ranging from bankers to Andy Warhol and Alice Cooper.

My favorite part was the famous chairs that resembled a pair of lips.  As you sit on these lips while watching Andy Warhol’s screen test of Dali, you realize two things: “Wow, these chairs are extremely hard,” and “I am putting my butt on a mouth,”  With this deceptively innocuous piece of furniture, Dali encapsulated the Freudian and the Surreal that dominated his work.  One expects lips to have a soft and pliant feel, but these chairs are rigid and hard.  Surrealism itself defines two opposite ideas put together.  Secondly, when you sit on a chair that looks like a mouth, Dali is playing one of his usual jokes on you.

The show officially ends on January 2011, so please check it out!

ETA: Removed broken links

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