Dalí? It is often the strikingly twirled moustache tips that first appear in the mind’s eye when one thinks of the artist. The Spaniard, who died 30 years ago, mastered self-staging so well that even today his actual work sometimes disappears behind his person.
The fact that this does not do justice to the painter is the starting point of the exhibition that can be seen this summer in the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco.
38 paintings, 28 drawings and photos from Salvador Dalí's life - made between 1910 and 1983 - travel to the principality. Most of the loans come from three museums: the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation in Figueres, the National Museum Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid, and the Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida.
The depth of the painter (1904-1989), who was "constantly ahead of his time", is often underestimated, says Montse Aguer, director of the Dalí Museums. She conceived the exhibition together with the Grimaldi Forum team. The art historian, who holds a doctorate, met the artist personally, she tells RI in an interview, and above all was enthusiastic about his extraordinary technique, his imagination and the enigmatic elements in Dalí's pictures: "I love the provocation in his works!
She understands the supposed narcissism of the Catalan as shyness towards people and the attempt to create a protective mask for himself. Yes, he and his wife Gala did attach great importance to appearances, such as chic clothes, says Montse Aguer. "In fact, he wanted everyone's attention, but he tried to draw them to his painting. Dalí also made use of the mass media for this early on.
In the Monaco exhibit, the Dalí connoisseur leads the public chronologically through his work.
Thus his development becomes understandable, influences of other painters and currents on his work become apparent.
Dalí was involved everywhere: His impressionist phase was followed by the cubist phase. This was followed by the surrealist phase anchored in collective memory - with motifs that he elicits from the unconscious, the dream world. Clocks and crutches are recurring subjects of the painting method he baptized "paranoid-critically".
In the classical period that followed in the 1940s and 1950s, Dalí's passion for art history and his enthusiasm for the masters of the Renaissance were revealed. Supported by his wife and muse Gala, he intensively studied his role models Jan Vermeer, Raffael, Velásquez and Leonardo da Vinci.
And finally, American art movements captivated the curious painter throughout his life in the seventies. He became friends with Andy Warhol and Pop Art became his last playground.
In addition to a replica of his imaginary "ideal studio", Dalí's reference to the Côte d'Azur is also discussed in the Grimaldi Forum: Visitors can discover photographs of the artist with the then Monegasque Princess Grace Patricia as well as snapshots of him in Coco Chanel's villa "La Pausa" at Roquebrune-Cap-Martin. By the way, he also painted a few pictures there - including one that is shown in the exhibition: the gloomy landscape "Violette impérial" from 1938, which reflects his concern before the war.
Throughout his life, elements in Dalí's pictures recall the rocky bay of the small fishing port, Portlligat in the far northeast of Spain and the view of the offshore island, the light and the shadows it cast. Here Dalí had grown up, where he would always return and come to rest. The house, which he gradually extended from old fishermen's cottages and lived in until the death of Gala in 1982, is now open to the public.
Death was also an obsession for Dalí - and his longing for immortality. The theme began with his birth: Dalí was born nine months after the death of his brother, who was born three years before him. He was given the same first name as his brother - and probably looked for his own identity all his life.
For more information go to: www.grimaldiforum.com
- Aila Stöckmann