Dali: Out of the box

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Reviewed on 11/29/2012 | No Reviews

Photo: © AFP, François Guillot & © Salvador Dali, Fundació Gala-Salvador Dali

Eric Schaal © Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí, Figueres

Dalí is back. Over thirty years after the last major exhibition, the Centre Pompidou dedicates a huge retrospective to the Spanish painter. And for the last four days, the exhibition will open continuously.

From the very beginning over his famous surrealist paintings until his late installations or inventions at television: here is a complete overview of an artist who considered himself as divine, as a genius somehow.

Last time when the Centre Pompidou dedicated an exhibition to Dali in January 1980, the opening has been cancelled. The employees had gone on strike. The artist himself appeared only shortly at the museum door to pose for photographers in his leopard skin coat to prove that he was and will always be the founder of the showmanship.

Dali in a nutshell

This time, there is no Dali, no personal-performance, no egocentric happening, but this clearly allows to reconsider his work and forget about the hate or rejection his person could easily provoke. The retrospective brings together 120 paintings, as well as drawings, objects, sketches, films and archival documents in a somehow surprisingly traditional, namely chronological order.

You enter the retrospective by an enormous egg, suggesting the belly of his mother where you can see a photo of the young Dali naked and curled up like a baby. Than follows his early works, paintings of the landscape of his hometown Figueres, the alpha and omega of the construction of his myth.


Strangely, his surrealist paintings have been to often seen, to often duplicated, to provoke astonishment or emotion. Of course, it’s nice to see “Persistance de la memoire”, his famous melting watches in its surprisingly small original version; it’s interesting too, to try to decipher the numerous layers of meaning in his paintings. But somehow Dali is interested only in himself, in his own neurosis or call it his own genius. His surrealist paintings talk, but they don’t talk to us. They are monologues.

Aurore, midi, après-midi et crépuscule, 1979 © Salvador Dali, Fundació Gala-Salvador Dali, © Adagp Paris 2012

Out of the box

There are interesting things to discover though: His fascination for Millet’s Angelus for example. He had the delirious, still somehow persuasive conviction that the painting was showing the hidden fruit of incest buried under the earth of the field. The painting held a particular fascination for him and he continued to work off the problematic in revisiting Angelus again and again in his own works.

The conservators of the Centre Pompidou are not hiding his political aberrations: his esteem for Franco and, worse, his indifference when his friend Garcia Lorca died for his convictions. Dali, this retrospective proves this again, was not divine, not a genius, but somebody who thought, painted and always lived completely out of the box.

Dali – 21 November 2012 until 25 March 2013 -FINISHED
Centre Pompidou
Place Georges Pompidou
75004 Paris
01 44 78 12 33
Métro: Rambuteau  or Hôtel de Ville  
Open every day from 11am-9pm, on Thursay until 11pm. Closed on Tuesdays.
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