Take a fantastic trip to the surreal, to the Dali

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Few art museums in Florida – or almost anywhere outside New York – rival the attractiveness of the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg.

The Salvador Dali Museum building, with its distinctive glass dome exterior, has been called rational and fantastic. (© 2021 – Salvador Dalí Museum, Inc., Saint Petersburg, Florida)

At the southern end of downtown, on the waterfront, it houses Dali’s largest collection of art outside of a museum he himself founded in his hometown of Figueres, Spain. .

Housed in what has been described as “one of the best buildings to see of your life”, the collection includes 2,400 works spanning Dali’s long career. Here you can see his oil paintings, watercolors, drawings, books, book illustrations and manuscripts, prints, sculptures, photos, textiles and documents.

Dali, who died at age 84 in 1989, was a prolific artist and pioneer of surrealism, known for his flamboyant personality as much as for his mind-blowing art. Some have called him a mad genius.

Many know him for his soft and melting clocks and watches, his self-portraits and his obsession with his wife Gala. Others know him for his gigantic paintings, some with hidden images or encrusted mysteries.

Presented at the Dali Museum, one of them entitled “Gala contemplating the Mediterranean Sea” represents his naked wife looking at the sea in a cross surrounded by brown squares. Take a step back and squint, or put on sunglasses, and you’ll see a portrait of Abraham Lincoln.

“Papa Longlegs of the Evening Hope!” Reflects Dali’s surrealist style. Oil on canvas, 1940 (Collection of the Dalí Museum, Saint Petersburg, Florida (United States) 2021; Worldwide © Salvador Dalí, Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí, (ARS), 2021; In the United States © Salvador Dalí Museum, Inc., St. Petersburg, Florida, 2021)

It is one of the most appreciated works – among many others – of the museum.

It takes several hours to walk around the museum to see all the art and read the descriptions of each piece. To find out more, it’s a good idea to download the Dali Museum app and take a self-guided tour.

In addition to the permanent collection, special exhibitions are organized regularly. Currently on display until January 2, 2022, “The Woman Who Broke Boundaries: Photographer Lee Miller”, showcasing her work in photojournalism and portraiture.

Visitors can see some of his self-portraits and photos of Dali and Gala, as well as his portraits of other artists and writers associated with surrealism, including Man Ray and Pablo Picasso.

Another exhibition, “At Home With Dali”, presents photos of five Dali and Gala photographers at their homes in Spain in the 1950s and 1960s.

From January 29 to May 22, 2022, the museum presents “Picasso and the lure of the South”, which will describe the influence of southern Europe on Picasso’s work. Many works he created in northern Spain and on the French Mediterranean coast will be shown for the first time in the United States.

A spiral staircase in the Dali Museum turns like a seashell, with a view of the Gala café below and the blue sky above. (Courtesy of Karen Haymon Long)

The museum building is a work of art in itself, with its geodesic glass bubble enveloping parts of the exterior and a spiral staircase that gracefully winds upward on the interior.

Looking around you sometimes feel like you are inside a Dali painting or seashell, especially when you go up the circular staircase and look at the blue sky and clouds Whites or to Tampa Bay.

The museum’s website says the building “combines the rational with the fantastic,” and it is certainly true.

The fantastic also continues outside, in the “Avant-Jardin”, a green space which includes a ficus called “the wishing tree”, suspended from strings of colorful admission bracelets marked with the wishes of those. who left them, for health, love, world peace and even glory.

This photo of Salvador and Gala Dali, taken by Lee Miller, is one of Miller’s works currently on display at the Dali Museum. (Copyright Lee Miller Archives 2021)

Dali, still self-promoter and fantastically popular, would have liked that. In his autobiography, “The Secret Life of Salvador Dali”, he says, at age 7, he wanted to be Napoleon. “And my ambition has grown steadily since.”

In the garden, too, is a bench that appears to be melting, with a melting clock on it, and a huge mustache sculpture of Dali that visitors like to stand in front of to take photos.

Due to COVID-19, the museum does not offer its usual guided tours, but it still offers private tours for groups of less than 10, for a price higher than admission.

The Dali Museum Shop and the Gala Caf̩ are both open. The store is stocked with everything Dali Рfrom jewelry and books, posters, melting clocks and clothing. The cafe offers Spanish tapas.

Some said that Dali’s surrealism was not to their liking, so they did not visit the world famous museum. But Dali’s art is diverse and there is probably something here for everyone. And who could resist the fantastic works of a mad genius?

Salvador Dalí Museum
Or: One Dali Blvd., St. Petersburg
Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., except Thursday, closing at 8 p.m.
Tickets: Advance purchase, timed tickets are required. Order from TheDali.org.
Cost: 18 to 64, $ 25; 65 and over, as well as educators, law enforcement and military, $ 23; students 13 and over, $ 18; 6 to 12 years old, $ 10; 5 years and under, free.
For self-guided tours and facts about Dali, download the Dali Museum app and grab headphones or buy headphones at the museum.
Covid Update: Masks are mandatory indoors, regardless of vaccination status.
Contact: TheDali.org; 727-823-3767

By Karen Haymon Long

Posted on October 13, 2021


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