Eagle-eyed visitors to the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg might notice that some of the Spanish artist's works that usually hang in the permanent galleries are missing.
No alarm necessary.
They're still on view but several thousand miles away in Paris at Europe's largest modern art museum, the Centre Pompidou, part of a major retrospective opening to the public on Wednesday. It will travel to the also-prestigious Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid, opening there on April 23 and continuing through Sept. 2.
The Dali Museum has lent 22 works, including 16 oil paintings, to the exhibition. The museum owns 96 paintings, the core of a collection that includes thousands of works on paper, sculpture, other media and ephemera such as letters, personal papers and writings by and about Salvador Dali. None of the large-scale paintings that ring the museum gallery's perimeter are part of the loan because their size makes them too fragile to travel. But there is a representative range of important works, beginning with a 1921 self-portrait painted when Dali was 17 and continuing through his "masterworks" period with the 1963 Portrait of My Dead Brother. Also included are early surrealist works from the late 1920s and early 1930s and examples of his famous use of optical illusion, such as Slave Market With the Disappearing Bust of Voltaire (1940).
This retrospective is big, with more than 200 works. It rivals one of the same size in Philadelphia in 2005, which was the first major retrospective after his death in 1989 and led to a serious reappraisal of his art.
Most of the art in the show comes from the collections of the Dali Foundation in Figueres, Spain, and the Sofia. The majority of their holdings were gifts or bequests by the artist. The St. Petersburg museum was formed primarily from the collection of industrialist Reynolds Morse and his wife, Eleanor. It is considered to be more comprehensive in span and scope.
As a thank you for the loan, the Sofia in Madrid has reciprocated with its own loan of 12 paintings never before exhibited in the United States. They will be on view at the Dali Museum in downtown St. Petersburg through March 31.
Museum director Hank Hine and several trustees will attend VIP events prior to the opening in Paris. Most will miss Thanksgiving; it isn't celebrated in France.
Lennie Bennett can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8293.