Every art museum in west-central Florida has a recently opened or about-to-open exhibition. The latest: "Marvels of Illusion" at the Dalí Museum, which begins Saturday and continues through Oct. 12.
Salvador Dalí loved optical illusions and created some of the greatest in the history of art. Curator Joan Kropf draws from the museum's huge permanent collection in assembling paintings, prints and sculpture by the 20th century Spanish artist that demonstrate his mastery and sly humor. A fabulous example is Gala Contemplating the Mediterranean Which at Twenty Meters Becomes the Portrait of Abraham Lincoln — Homage to Rothko, 1976, oil and collage on canvas, shown.
And to remind us that illusion isn't a newer thing, a painting by Italian Renaissance artist Giuseppe Arcimboldo, who made portraits of people from images of fruits and vegetables, on loan from the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. From a distance, the facial features look normal.
In Gala, Dalí used a similar trick. Up close, it's a portrait of his wife Gala, nude with her back to us, looking out a window and surrounded by squares of color resembling tile (or Mark Rothko's paintings). Back up (preferably 20 meters) and it becomes a portrait of Lincoln. The museum has designed an interactive component in which you submit your photo-portrait and it becomes part of the painting.
Another terrific component salutes the artist's interest in science. The Museum of Science and Industry has a complementary exhibition using examples in art of the use of three-dimensional illusions and demonstrations by a 3-D printer.
Lennie Bennett, Times art critic