Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Dalí Exhibition

“Every morning upon awakening, I experience a supreme pleasure: that of being Salvador Dalí."

dali_exhibition 001 (Small)
The National Gallery of Victoria currently has running a comprehensive Salvador Dalí exhibition. As I had the day off work yesterday I took myself along to it on a free ticket from Mercedes Benz, the major sponsor of the exhibition.

The last time I visited the Gallery was to see the Art Deco exhibition which I reported on around this time last year. B accompanied me to that exhibition, so I never got a chance to roam around the rest of the gallery.

B wasn’t interested in seeing Dalí, so I went by myself and availed myself of the opportunity to see more than Dalí. In all I spent about three hours wandering around and was footsore as a result and relieved to get on a tram and make my way home.

I took some photos on my way to the gallery…

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Shadows cast on the wall of the gallery from the Arts Centre next door

It was all worth it though, as I did manage to hunt down the Pre Raphaelites and saw some other fine paintings as well.

So first the Dalí exhibition…

It was indeed comprehensive, covering Dalí’s career from his early years to his surrealist period including his collaborations with film makers, Luis Bunuel and Alfred Hitchcock. You could actually watch Un Chien Adalou , as it was showing in a theatrette in the gallery. I eschewed the opportunity, not wishing to be horrified by the eye slicing bit at the beginning, and besides there was quite a queue to see it, so I moved on.

Of course photography was not allowed, but I purchased a couple of postcards to scan as examples.

The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory

Three Young Surrealist Women
Holding in their arms the Skins of an Orchestra

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Slave Market with the Disappearing Bust of Voltaire

I was surprised at how small some of the famous paintings were, though others, like Three Surrealist Women were large and glowed alluringly from the walls. Despite there being quite a crowd moving through the exhibition, everyone was polite and considerate, taking turns to get up close to the paintings to view the finer details and read the commentary displayed by each of them.

And yes, it was comprehensive, covering all aspects of Dalí’s life and art. I was unaware that he had made jewellery – the tiny gold brooches and pendants were exquisite.

The commentary on select paintings was framed in the form of a rhinoceros, no doubt in reference to the following photo. Dali considered rhinos to have the perfect geometrical shape.


I’m pretty sure I saw the whole collection on display (it was large), so having had a surfeit of melting clocks and such, I set out to explore what else the gallery had to offer.

I intended to go and look at the European Art collection, where I figured the Pre Raphaelites could be found, but I was distracted by another special exhibition, The Satirical Eye: comedy and critique from Hogarth to Daumier and somehow ended up in Persuasion: Fashion in the Age of Jane Austen, a collection of 18th Century dresses. All very interesting, but I didn’t spend that much time there and soon found my way to European Art, working my way up and up through the Middle Ages to the early 20th Century.

thomas_rowlandson_a little bigger
Thomas Rowlandson – A Little Bigger

I found the Pre Raphaelites eventually and snuck a few photos when the attendant was elsewhere.

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Arthur Hughes - La Belle Dame Sans Merci

On my way, I was taken by many paintings like this wonderful Matisse nude.

matisse_reclining nude_on a pink couch
Reclining nude on pink couch

Making for the exit I discovered two fine Max Ernst paintings, one of which is pictured below.

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Max Ernst - War of Two Roses

By that time I’d had a sufficiency of fine art and my feet hurt, so skipped the Asian section and whatever else was on offer. Another day I’ll get round to exploring those sections and also visit the Ian Potter Gallery for the Australian art collection.


Jan said...

Super post.
Lots to take in.
And how self confident WAS Salvador...( eg his awakening thoughts you mention)...but no doubt feeling that way is a BIG part of success.

Anne S said...

Jan, Welcome back to the Blogosphere!

Dali was very eccentric - THAT was made perfectly clear at the exhibition.

Did you know he made a special harp for Harpo Marx, with barbed wire for strings. There was a photo of Harpo sitting in front of this harp with his fingers in bandages, grinning hugely.