Thursday, May 24, 2018
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Salvador Dalí retrospective in Paris tries to bridge chasm

A major retrospective of Salvador Dalí's works opened last month in Paris at the Centre Pompidou, Europe's largest modern art museum. Among the more than 200 pieces, are 22 works, including 15 oil paintings, on loan from the Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg.

The exhibition continues through the end of march and then travels to the also-prestigious Reina Sofía Museum in Madrid, opening there on April 23 and continuing through Sept. 2. The show of the eccentric and controversial artist has drawn journalists and art critics from throughout Europe, all commenting on Dalí's legacy and how the show might change the art world's view of him. Here are some excerpts of what has been written about the show.

Tampa Bay Times

"Dalí's paintings are meticulously calculated images of his fantasies, not snapshots of his subconscious.

"His 'paranoid-critical method,' as he called it, allowed him to freely flaunt his addiction to masturbation, his impotence and other obsessions.

"At the Pompidou, you find all the ingredients he used again and again in his works — the melting watches, the crutches, the half-open drawers, the eggs, the quotations from the history of art." — Jorg von Uthmann, the Guardian

"Twirling his waxed moustache, Salvador Dalí's larger-than-life figure was beamed into millions of homes in the 1960s, his televised antics bringing huge fame, but burning his bridges with the art world.

"Now a major new Paris exhibit aims to reinstate that legacy, putting Dalí's media stunts — burying himself in banknotes, signing books wired to a brain monitor, even ad campaigns — on equal footing with his surrealist painting." — Emma Charlton, Agence France Presse

"Was Salvador Dalí — who proclaimed himself a genius and 'divine' — one of the world's greatest artists or one of the world's biggest showoffs?

"For years art critics wrestling with this problem were forced to carve up his 70-year career into the 'good' Surrealist years and the embarrassing 'bad' decades — when the mustachioed eccentric was accused of megalomania, catering to dictators and selling out through his numerous TV stints. In France in the late 1960s, Dalí was more known as the face of a chocolate ad than as a painter.

But a landmark exhibit at Paris' Pompidou Center — featuring more than 120 paintings including the melted clocks of his famed 1931 work The Persistence of Memory alongside film work and TV appearances — aims to rewrite the art history books. It shows how his mass-media period, shunned by critics, was in fact extremely influential and must be reconciled with his early work to fully understand the scope of his genius. — Thomas Adamson, Associated Press

"The exhibition seeks to move beyond the shameless self-promotion that the 20th century Surrealist was often derided for and stress Dalí's indelible influence on artists today.

"Once dubbed 'Avida Dollars' for his love of money, Dalí is regarded by some as little more than a marketing product, his Spanish home an obligatory tourist stop, his trademark melting watches the inspiration for money-spinning souvenirs.

"But a new show at the Pompidou Centre lays bare the extent of his creative genius, exploring how his experiments with painting, cinema, advertising and installations influenced movements from Pop Art to today's performance art." — Reuters

"The exhibition conceals nothing in Dalí's polymorphous nature, intelligently illustrating his journey from dreamlike figurative art to an approach that was more contemporary, conceptual and theatrical. And while he is presented in his different guises, taken altogether the whole offers us a profound coherence in Dalí's constant humour. Many artists have proclaimed that 'art is life'; far rarer are those who have absorbed the idea and turned it into an immense masquerade, with jubilant megalomania and imperious capriciousness. Dalí's life was a masked ball that lasted nearly a century, behind his unforgettable moustache." — Time Out/Paris

"Check out the famous melting clocks for yourself, try not to nod off in front of the somnambulant Sleep, and count the appendages in Le Grand Masturbateur as you learn about Dalí's erotic fantasies, fear of insects crawling out of skin and friendship with Freud, which informed a lot of his weirder works. Finally, round off the experience by having a look at Le spectre du sex appeal for a glimpse of what old age has to offer. Death will seem like sweet escape in comparison." — 60by80.com, a European travel guide

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