The Cultural Center of the Bank of Brazil (CCBB) presents the largest anthological exhibition ever held in Brazil, on the Catalan-born artist, Salvador Dalí until September 22, 2014. Taking place in Rio de Janeiro during the World Cup, the retrospective showcases 164 works that include prints, paintings, photographs, illustrations and 56 documents. It will survey the many creative phases of the artist, with an emphasis on his Surrealist period.
Salvador Felipe Jacinto Dali I Domenech was born in the foothills of the Pyrenees in Figueres, Spain in 1904. Best known for his technical artistry as a painter, he had a shocking imaginative quality. His innovative spirit was coalesced with an admiration for tradition, and he unfailingly portrayed the Spanish landscape that became tantamount with his dreams and powers of invention.
The show opens with the first works of the Catalan painter as the Portrait of My Father and Casa Es Llaner (1920), Cubist Self-Portrait (1923) and Portrait of My Sister (1925). In 1926, Dalí, like many other artists, traveled to meet Pablo Picasso in Paris. It was in the City of Lights where he made his first Surrealist painting. Dalí took dream imagery from René Magritte one-step further with his own “erotically charged, hallucinatory visions.”
In 1930, the founder of Surrealism and former Dadaist, André Breton praised the Spaniard’s depictions of the unconscious in his Second Manifesto of Surrealism. By then, Dalí had found his own stylistic approach, and he began working his way toward Surrealism.
His first individual Paris show came in 1931 at Galerie Pierre Colle, where he showed what would become one of his most famous works, The Persistence of Memory (1931) that depicted melting watches across a landscape.
While in Paris, he produced films with Spanish filmmaker, Luis Bunuel, Un Chien Andalou (1929) which was shown at Studio des Ursulines, and L’âge d’or (1930) at Studio 28. Both films are shown in the exhibit’s old vaults of the Bank of Brazil. Dalí proceeded to produce Imperial Monument to Women-Girl (1929), Morphological Echo (1935), Atomic Idyll Uranium and Melancholy (1945) that brought to mind the disaster of the Second World War.
As a whole, Dali’s art encompassed the most sharply stated construction of the “dream image,” an approach that was envisioned from previous European Realism masters such as Vermeer and Velázquez. Dali once stated, “Images of concrete irrationality with the most imperialist fury of precision,” and he maintained that paranoia was what shaped his interpretations.
The phobia-induced images are seen throughout Dalí’s earlier works. He presented a persuasive clash between the conceivability of the canvas’s subject matter and the perplexing, illogical circumstances that occur within it. Moreover, Salvador Dalí was able to grasp, through the most specific of images, that “superior reality” versus “everyday experiences,” could be discovered in “certain forms of association neglected hitherto.”
Dalí often clashed with the other Surrealist members, especially Breton. In 1934, a “trial” was held, and the Spaniard was expelled from the movement allegedly because he had rebuffed taking a stance against Spanish dictator, Francisco Franco. Despite his ejection, Dalí continued to partake in future Surrealist exhibitions.
With the arrival of the Second World War, the Surrealist movement in Europe all but disbanded. Salvador Dalí, along with other artists fled Europe to spend the war years in New York. It was during this time that Dali amended his approach toward art. He rebuffed Modernism and began to associate with other artistic styles and projects. It began with his Classic period and later evolved into his “Nuclear Mysticism” period. Dalí not only painted, but also designed the sets for Ballet International, assisted Alfred Hitchcock with a dream sequence for his movie, Spellbound, and illustrated for various literature works among other creative endeavors.
After his wife and muse, Gala died in 1982, King Juan Carlos I of Spain appointed Salvador Dalí, Marquis of Púbol and he moved into Púbol Castle. A year later, similar to the upcoming Brazil showing, the first major anthological exhibition was held in Spain. The Spanish museums displayed 400 works by Dalí spanning from 1914 through 1983. After a castle fire in 1984, Dalí moved to Torre Galatea, Figueres, until his death in 1989. Salvador Dalí forged a remarkable body of work during his long career, and his life demonstrated the “wholeness” of living creatively in every aspect of his existence.
By Dawn Levesque