"I believe that the moment is near when, by a procedure of active paranoic thought, it will be possible to systematize confusion and contribute to the total discrediting of the world of reality."

- Salvador Dalí
 


     
Portrait of Salvador Dalí, 1954

Philippe Halsman (American, b. Latvia, 1906-1979)
Gelatin silver print, 13 5/8 x 10 3/4 inches

© Philippe Halsman Estate/Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, NYC

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is privileged to be the only American venue to host the major centennial retrospective exhibition devoted to Salvador Dalí (1904-1989). This exhibition, timed to coincide with the celebration of the 2004 centenary of the artist’s birth, considers all aspects of the artist’s long and controversial career. On view is a vast array of Dalí’s highly influential Surrealist paintings, as well as his early Cubist-inspired works and later experiments with optical illusions and perspective, as in Still Life - Fast Moving of 1956. This thorough reevaluation of Dalí’s remarkable contribution to modern and contemporary art is augmented by examples of his work in other fields, including theater design, filmmaking, and literature. Over 200 works of art are on view, many of which are being shown in the United States for the first time.

Dalí remains one of the best-known artists of the modern era, due to his flamboyant personality and instantly recognizable painting style. His Surrealist paintings are rendered in a meticulous technique that imparts a dream-like clarity to his barren landscapes, which are often filled with strange objects, such as the crutch holding up the old woman that graces one of his best-known works, The Weaning of Furniture - Nutrition of 1934. It was paintings such as this one that secured his fame, yet his importance as a major figure in twentieth-century art has at times been undermined by what critics have perceived as his pandering and knack for self-promotion. In recent years, however, a number of exhibitions and scholarly studies have seriously begun to reexamine the breadth, density, and intelligence of his work. The curatorial team for this project, led by the preeminent Dalí scholar, Dawn Ades, proposes to build upon these insights to create a thorough and challenging account of Dalí’s artistic production in all phases of his career.

     
Soft Construction with Boiled Beans
(Premonition of Civil War), 1936

Salvador Dalí (Spanish, 1904-1989)
Oil on canvas, 39 5/16 x 39 3/8 inches

Philadelphia Museum of Art: The Louise and Walter Arensberg Collection, 1950 © Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

The Philadelphia Museum of Art provides a particularly appropriate setting for this landmark exhibition. The Museum owns two major Dalí paintings, Agnostic Symbol, of 1932, and Soft Construction with Boiled Beans (Premonition of Civil War), of 1936. Soft Construction with Boiled Beans has long been considered to be among the most important paintings that Dalí ever completed. With painstaking attention to detail, this image allegorizes the gruesome horrors anticipated in the approaching Spanish Civil War. Depicting a bizarrely contorted figure with ecstatic grimace and petrifying fingers and toes, the image not only exemplifies the artist’s deep concern for the political situation of his native land, but also the disconcerting beauty of his Surrealist art.

The Salvador Dalí retrospective will appeal to a wide audience, ranging from those familiar with his work to a general public for whom Dalí's name resonates with hallucinating vision, intense creativity, and consummate showmanship.

Sponsors
Made possible by  

Additional funding has been provided by an endowment from The Annenberg Foundation for major exhibitions at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities, by grants from The Pew Charitable Trusts and the National Endowment for the Arts, and by a generous contribution from Gisela and Dennis Alter. Promotional support provided by NBC 10 WCAU, Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation, Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau, and Amtrak. The print media sponsor is The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philly.com.

The extension of the exhibition through May 30 has been made possible by a grant from the Economic and Community Development Fund of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Organizers
The exhibition has been commissioned by the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation, Figueres, Spain, and organized by Palazzo Grassi, Venice, in collaboration with the Philadelphia Museum of Art and with the support of the Salvador Dalí Museum of Saint Petersburg, Florida, and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, in celebration of the centennial of Dalíís birth.

Curators
Michael Taylor • The Muriel and Philip Berman Curator of Modern Art
Dawn Ades • Guest Curator

Location
Dorrance Special Exhibition Galleries, first floor

Publication
The definitive retrospective and catalogue of Dalí's work is now available online and in the Museum Store. Dalí explores the development of the artist's technique and style, his relationship with the Surrealists, his experiments with optical illusions, and his interest in themes related to science and religion in his later work. It includes illustrations of all the works loaned to the exhibition, as well as comparative illustrations and photographs.

Itinerary

• Palazzo Grassi, Venice, Italy • September 12, 2004 - January 16, 2005
• Philadelphia Museum of Art • February 16 - May 30, 2005