I took my mother this weekend to the Salvador Dalí exhibit, Salvador Dali: Visions of Eternity, currently showing at the Arlington Museum of Art.
Dali was always much more than one of Surrealism’s leading figures. A virtuoso, gifted with dazzling skills and technique, Dali was a painter, designer, sculptor, writer and set designer as well as a master engraver who could produce equally outstanding work in dry point, etching, woodcut or lithography. This exhibition features Dali’s full series of Dante’s The Divine Comedy, for which each of the lithographs presented required as many as 35 colors. There are a total of 101 pieces included in this exhibition.
I’ve been to two other Dalí museums that I can remember. The first was opened while the artist was still alive. I visited the gallery in Catalonia in the mid 80’s and learned that art did not have to be boring. I was fascinated with the mathematical calculated intricacies in some of his work. That gallery featured tiny hand drawings lining a spiral staircase where you peeked through a port hole to see them. It also featured a large pieces that required their own room. I was taking a drafting class a the time so I recognized the standard methods for perspective being used and abused.
More recently I visited the new Dalí gallery in St. Petersburg. I was hoping to see the same kind of art I had seen before and was disappointed. It was if this collection was of a different artist. As I dug deeper, I found the connection to what I had seen. This collection merely showed a different aspect of the same talents that I recognized.
Yesterday’s visit in Arlington was of a single collection that was published in 1960 as a book of woodcut prints. It was a retelling of Dante’s Devine Comedy. For each print, there was a reference to the cantiche, canto, and line represented. The prints are displayed in order so you can go with Virgil into Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso. Once again it was a different glimpse into an artist that I thought I knew. There were a few pieces the threw back to classic Dalí’s surrealistic landscapes but by-and-large, this was a new experience.
The exhibit will be there through January 21, 2018 and is well worth the time and entrance fee.