The largest private collection of works by the Spanish painter and surrealist Salvador Dali is located in the harbor district of St. Peterburg. The museum contains 95 original oil paintings, 6 of the artist’s 18 masterpieces, which are at least 1.50 m high, 100 watercolors and drawings as well as 1,300 graphics, sculptures, photos and documents, as well as an extensive archive.
1 Dali Boulevard, St. Petersburg, FL 33701, United States, +1 727-823-3767, open Monday through Saturday 9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., Sunday 12 p.m. – 5:30 p.m., closed Thanksgiving and December 25th
According to simplyyellowpages, there are regular free guided tours that are worth taking part in, as the works are commented on from a wide variety of points of view and context. As an artist, Salvador Dali did not limit himself to a single style or medium. From the early Impressionist paintings to the works of transition and surrealism up to his “classical” period, his life’s work documents a constantly developing and growing artist. Dali used all media and left for posterity a wealth of oil paintings, watercolors, drawings, graphics, sculptures, pieces of jewelry and objects of all kinds. Dali’s unrivaled insight and symbolic complexity are equally striking, regardless of whether it is a work that fails arose from pure inspiration, or a work that he has carried out on behalf of. But above all, Dali was characterized by his ability to design. In his outstanding capacity as a creative artist, he will always be a benchmark for the art of the twentieth century.
The most avid – and learned – collectors of Dali’s work are A. Reynolds and Eleanor R. Morse. With the acquisition of Daddy Longlegs of the Evening – Hope! In 1942, Mr. and Mrs. Morse began a lifelong relationship with Dali and Gala, which included holidays together, lectures and discussions, as well as numerous exhibitions. The Morse collection, which has grown to be the largest in the United States, is unrivaled in size and variety. The collection was originally on display in a wing of Morse’s office building, but was then displayed to the Florida population in 1980donated. In March 1982 the Dali Museum was opened in St. Petersburg. The museum gave the collection a permanent home and offered the public the unique opportunity to learn more about this artist from Catalonia and his work.
Salvador Dali (1904-1989)
Salvador Felipe Jacinto Dali i Domenech was born on May 11th at 8:34 a.m. in Figueres, a small rural town in Spain. Here in Catalonia, in the foothills of the Pyrenees, only twenty-six kilometers from the French border, he spent his childhood. The Dali family owned a holiday home in the fishing village of Cadaques on the Mediterranean, where his parents set up his first studio for him. He later lived with Gala in the nearby Port Lligat. Many of his paintings reflect his love for this part of Spain.
The young Dali attended the San Fernando Art Academy in Madrid. In 1925, during his first vernissage in Barcelona, early attention was paid to his talent. When only three years later, three of his paintings were shown at the Carnegie International Exhibition in Pittsburgh, he gained international recognition. One of these images was The Basket of Bread, which is now in the collection of the Salvador Dali Museum. The following year, 1929, Dali opened his first Parisian vernissage. In the same year he met Gala Eluard, who was visiting Cadaques with her husband, the poet Paul Eluard. She would become Dali’s mistress, muse, manager, and the main source of his inspiration.
In 1930 Dali returned to Paris, where he became one of the Parisian surrealists grouped around the author Andre Breton. He became one of the leading figures in surrealism, and his painting Persistence of Memory (1931) is still one of the best-known surrealist paintings. However, as the war approached, the apolitical Dali fell out with the other Surrealists and was expelled from them during a 1934 negotiation. Although he exhibited works in international exhibitions throughout the decade, in 1940 he was ready to take a new direction; his “classical” period had begun.
During World War II, Dali and Gala fled Europe and spent 1940-48 in the United States. These years were of great importance to the artist. The Museum of Modem Art in New York gave Dali its first retrospective in 1941. This was followed by the publication of his autobiography, The Secret Life of Salvador Dali. With the departure from surrealism and the beginning of his classical period, Dali began his series of eighteen masterpieces – large paintings, often with a scientific, historical or religious theme. Among the best known are The Sacrament of the Last Supper (National Gallery, Washington, DC), The Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus, and Hallucinogenic toreadors are both in the museum’s collection.
In 1974 Dali opened the Teatro Museo Dali in Figueres, Spain. This was followed by retrospectives in Paris and London towards the end of the decade. After the death of his wife Gala in 1982, Dali’s health deteriorated noticeably after a fire in his 1984 Heim in Pubol suffered burn injuries. Two years later he was fitted with a pacemaker. Dali spent most of his last six years in seclusion, first in Pubol and then in his apartment, adjacent to the Teatro Museo in Torre Galatea. Salvador Dali died on May 23rd January 1989 in Figueres from heart failure and breathing difficulties.
Early works 1914-1927
Cadaques (1923): The picture is the view of Cadaques from the rock terraces above the Dali’s house. Impressionist influences can be seen in the touch of Cezanne in the landscape. The squat girls in the foreground are reminiscent of Picasso’s women. A leisure balloon that rises above the landscape and a tiny white sailboat in the bay below create a feeling of lightness and space.
Self-Portrait (Figueres) 1921: This self-portrait indicates that Dali was exposed to a wide range of influences, such as the works of Rembrandt. The work is painted on sackcloth, which the young Dali sometimes cut from the coverings that were used to keep the wood of the fishing boats from drying out. The artist presents himself here with a black slouch hat and a pipe from his father, just as he appeared in a theater performance in Figueres. During his school days he often wore a long cape and knickerbockers to create an extravagant image. Dali’s eccentricity developed at a young age while trying to acquire an identity separate from his brother, who was also called Salvador and who died 10 months before Dali’s birth. When Dali grew up his parents constantly compared him to his late brother. With his exaggerated behavior, Dali fought against this equation.
Transition period (1928)
Beigneuse (1928): The painting’s title may be a play on words, referring to the French word “beignet,” a pancake that was sold in the streets of Spain and which is roughly reflected in the shape of this painting. The use of gravel was a protest against the limitations of traditional art and fulfilled the artist’s desire to experiment with structure.
Oeufe sur le Plat sans le Plat (1932): “Fried eggs, without a plate” was created from a memory from the womb. In Dali’s own words, he remembered his existence in the womb “as if it were yesterday…” All his joy gave him his eyes, and his greatest vision in the womb was that of “two eggs fried in a pan without Pan.” In this painting, Dali reproduced the vision in the colors he had seen: “red, orange, yellow and bluish, the colors of flames…” In the background, the remarkable colors of Cape Creus are enhanced by a dim glow. He compares the shine of the eggs with Gala’s piercing look. The floating egg represents the embryo. The dripping clock hanging close to the wall is an interesting variation on the “soft clock,”
The Weaning of Furniture – Nutrition (1921) (Weaning the furniture – food): The use of the word “weaning” in the title of the work gives an indication of the identity of the old woman and the reason why Dali portrayed her. The painting depicts Dali’s nanny, Lucia, to whom he was very attached. She poses as a tinkerer on the beach in Port Lligat. In this regard, it is a double image that represents both: his nanny and the nanny. However, it can also be interpreted as the nanny being taken out of (or weaned) from her familiar surroundings and placed in the unfamiliar environment of the Netzflicker. As a child, Dali had very strongly associated his nanny with tables and bottles and considered these items to be an integral part of her personality.
Archeological Reminiscence of Millet’s Angelus (1933-35): Millet’s Angelus fascinated Dali so much that he became obsessed with it. This obsession led him to produce a whole range of paranoid-critical interpretations that deal with the Angelus issue. He wrote about it in The Tragic Myth of Millet’s Angelus- (1932) in which he published the thesis that the real theme of the Angeluswas not the reverential posture of evening prayer, but sexual repression. Thirty years later (1963) Dali’s suspicions were confirmed. An X-ray examination revealed that Millet had originally painted the coffin with the late farmer’s son, which Millet later painted over himself. Thus, Dali’s over-obsession with this painting had resulted in a truly remarkable discovery.
In Dali’s painting the Angelus people are depicted as two tower ruins that stand in the moonlit plain of Ampurdan. In his childhood, Dali Angelus always associated his daydreams in the twilight. The strange silver moonlight distinguishes this painting from other works by Dali.
Old Age. Adolescence. Infancy (The Three Ages) (1940) (old age, youth, childhood – the three ages): Dali uses double images to create the allegorical faces of old age, youth and childhood. In the openings, which also represent the faces, one can catch a glimpse of Port Uigat. Dali got the idea for these openings from the ancient arches in the ruins of Ampurias. The bowed head of the figure on the left also represents the eyes of old age. The rest of this figure forms the nose and mouth. The mouth and nose of youth are formed by the back of Dali’s nannies. The eyes appear in the isolated houses of Cadaques. A fisher woman mending a net (right in the picture) forms the barely recognizable face of youth.
Slave Market with the Disappearing Bust of Voltaire (1940): This work embodies an example of the sudden paranoid-critical hallucinations that befell Dali while half asleep. A space-time concept is used here. The slightest movement or the slightest time shift would shift the arrangement of the people so that the face would disappear. In 1971 this effect was based on this picture in Scientific Americandescribed. Dali was inspired to create this picture while looking at the bust of Voltaire by the French sculptor Houdon. The bust appears through the random placement of the two Dutch traders. The opening in the rock forms the upper edge of the head. The faces of the traders make up the eyes, their collars represent the nose and cheek. The fruit bowl also forms a double image in which the distant hill becomes a pear and the backside of the man standing by is an apple. According to Dali, the slave figure watching is probably a gala.
Classical period (1943-1989)
Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory (1952-54): One of Dali’s most famous paintings – and surrealism in general – is Persistence of Memory, 1931. After Gala saw that earlier work, which Dali had completed in a single afternoon, she remarked: “Nobody who has seen this picture will ever be able to forget it.” In contrast to that painting from 1931, Dali integrates the developments of our time into the painting, Disintegration. The work shows the world changed by the atomic age. The blocks represent the atomic power source. The dissolving something is a big rock near Cape Creus, which Dali called “the big masturbator”. The reappearing rocks over the Bay of Cullero and the abandoned olive tree connect the scene to his earlier paintings of Cape Creus. It picks up on an important fact from the life of the twentieth century: discoveries of nuclear research have shaken the serenity of Port Uigat and the rest of the world.
Between 1948 and 1970, Salvador Dali completed at least 18 large oil paintings – his masterpieces. To be considered a masterpiece, a work had to keep Dali intellectually engaged for at least a year and its dimensions had to be at least 150 cm in each direction. The artist’s ability to combine traditional influences with modern events and ideas, as well as his power to come up with new concepts, reached its peak during this period. The Dali Museum owns six of these works.
Nature Morte Vivante (1956) (Vivid Still Life): This painting is Dali’s sixth masterpiece and the first to leave the religious theme that he had addressed in his paintings since 1950. He himself calls this an explanatory painting, because it shows the division of a fruit bowl. The turning compote and the botanical cauliflower form a spiral. His almost obsessive predilection for spirals is based on precursors that stem from both the realm of life (recognizable in the cauliflower and the rhinoceros horn) and architecture. Dali was captured by the spiral and predicted as early as the 1940s that it embodied the ultimate foundation of life. This was proven true when Crick and Watson discovered the helical structure of the DNA molecule in 1953. The entire work is based on a mathematical grid based on the golden ratio. The arrangement of such different elements pleases the eye due to the perfect symmetry.
Velazquez Painting the Infanta Margarita with the Lights and Shadows of his own Glory (1958) (Velazquez painting the Infanta Margarita with the lights and shadows of his own glory): Dali painted this interpretation of the Infanta, while dealing with the impending 300th anniversary of the death of the great Spanish painter Velazquez. He combined the entirely Spanish theme of the work with the modern, atomic-mystical, dismantling technique of the 1950s. Infanta’s face evolves from his obsession with the spiral shape of the rhinoceros horn. Dali claimed to have used small amounts of “anti-matter” in this work, which can be seen in the flower in Infanta’s hand. The view of the gallery in the upper left corner is reminiscent of a work by T. Breughel (1560-1625). The attempt to combine the old masters and scientific influences in one work is typical of Dali in this period. The more the subject affects his home country, the brighter his inspiration shines.
The Discovery of America bv Christopher Columbus (1958): This year Dali was commissioned to paint the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus. When he began this work, Spain and its leading artists were deeply moved by the impending 300th anniversary of the death of the great Spanish painter Velazquez (d. 1660). Dali received the impetus for this painting from the work The Surrender of Breda by Velazquez. The lances that dominate on the right of that painting reappear in Dali’s Columbus. He used these lances as if they were lines from a photo-engraving; an image of Christ appears in these lances. This image of Christ comes from his own painting ” The Christ of St. John of the Cross“. The picture was inspired by a cosmic dream and a sketch by the medieval mystic John of the Cross. The appearance of Gala in the banner of Columbus and Dali’s own appearance as a kneeling monk is a tribute to the woman to whom Dali owes his conquest of America. The single large fly in the lower left is reminiscent of the old Catalan legend of the horsefly that miraculously emerged from the tomb of St. Narcissus came out to protect Spain and put off the French invasion. The inclusion of this Catalonian legend gives the painting a main motif: Dali’s thesis that Columbus himself was a Catalonian, born in Gerona. He expanded the historical significance of the painting with the enigmatic sea urchin in the foreground. Dali explained to Mr. and Mrs. Morse, that they would recognize its importance later. One day, in the summer of 1971, Eleanor Morse noticed that Dali had intended to symbolize Armstrong’s first step on the moon – more than a decade before it became a reality!
The Ecumenical Council (1960) (Ecumenical Council): This shows Dali’s view that religion and science can coexist without surrealist contradictions. At the same time, Pope John XXIII is honored for his efforts to unite the churches through the ecumenical council. The coronation of Pope John XXIII is depicted in four different ways: three times in the middle and once in the upper right corner, where the image was created by the artist pressing the suction arm of a sea polyp against the canvas. The structure of the painting is formed by an almost perfect “X”, which symbolizes the Trinity. In the upper quarter, the outstretched hand of God, the Father, obscures man’s view of his face. Dali’s constant preoccupation with molecular particles is shown on the left in the zigzag elements, which he used to represent Christ the Son. Again, Dali combines religion and science by using elements of creation to represent the Creator. The third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, is represented by the dove and spirit-like figure. Gala is shown in the same pose she is inSt. Helena of Port Lligat appears.
Galacidalacidesoxiribunucleicacid (1963): In this masterpiece, Dali focuses on the religious theme of ‘Resurrection’ to express his interest in modern science and awareness of contemporary events. The title of the work refers to the discovery of the DNA molecule by Crick and Watson in 1953. The DNA molecule with its spiral shape is the basic form of life. Dali often spoke of the connection between spirals and life in the early 1950s, even before the DNA molecule was discovered! The impetus for this work came from a tragic spring flood in western Barcelona in September 1962. This flood from the Rio Llobregat cost the lives of 450 people and was one of the worst natural disasters in Spain’s modern history. The flooded landscape is shown in the center of the canvas. Dali used the ‘resurrection’ theme to offer comfort to the Catalan victims by hinting at rebirth. The cyclical theme of birth-death-rebirth is enhanced by the contrasting shapes on the left and right sides of the painting. On the right a cubic structure resembling a mineral molecule and made up of Arabs, each person pointing a gun at his neighbor. It is the molecule of self-destruction. In contrast, the left side contains a structure of the DNA molecule. This structure contains the genetic key of life and has the shape of the spiral double helix. In this way the life spiral contrasts with the death dice. God’s resurrection of his Son in the center of the picture is the key to the hope that Dali offers the Catalan victims.
Hallucinogenic Toreador (1969-70) – (The Hallucinatory Torrero): Dali got the idea for this painting in 1969 in an art supply store. He saw the face of a torrero in the body of a Venus depicted on a box of Venus pencils. In this double image, the image of “Venus de Milo” is repeated several times, so that the shadows on the body of Venus form the parts of the face of the Torrero. It’s best to start with the green skirt: it’s a man’s tie. The white skirt becomes his shirt. Now follow the figure upwards. Your abdomen will be his chin, her stomach will be his mouth, and her left breast will be his nose. The pink bow forms the top of his head and the arena the top of his hat. The tear in the eye (the neck of Venus) flows for Taurus. The red skirt of the first Venus is its red cloth. The torero appears again in the figure outlined in yellow, this time with raised arms when the bull is handed over to Gala, which appears in the top left, surrounded by yellow. Dali painted Gala with a scowl because she doesn’t like bullfights. The image of a dying bull appears in the rocky terrain of Cape Creus, which can be seen just below the red cloth. The eye is a large fly. What at first glance looks like a pool of blood under the dying bull is actually a semi-transparent bay. In this bay you can spot a woman in a yellow boat. The apparent inconsistency symbolizes the “modern tourist invasion that even the flies of St. Narcissus could not stop!” Dali once remarked that he would not be too concerned about the desecration of his beloved Cape Creus because the rocks “will eventually defeat the French tourists and time will clean up the rubbish they leave everywhere.” And, to complete the story of Dali’s Spain, the little boy in the corner with the ring and the fossil bone in hand, Dali himself is in his famous sailor’s clothes.