Beginning Monday, October 1, 2012, the Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, which holds the largest collection of Dalí in the Americas, will welcome twelve important Dalí works on loan from the National Collection of Modern Art in Spain – Madrid’s Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia. This selection of paintings will expand our knowledge of Dali’s diverse production of art. The Royal Inheritance, paintings which came to the Kingdom of Spain as heir to Dali’s estate, will present works that have never been on view in America before, including still lifes, the stunning stereoscopic work Las Meninas, portraits of his wife, Gala, and later works with a mathematical theme. The exhibition is co-curated by the Dalí Museum’s senior curators Joan Kropf and William Jeffett.
Superseding a series of previous wills, Dali’s final will, written in 1982 following the death of Gala, named the Spanish Kingdom as his sole heir. After Dalí died in 1989, works from the former Museo Español de Arte were transferred to the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, now one of the world’s largest contemporary art museums.
The exhibition begins with examples of Dali’s precise technical skill in four paintings from 1918 to 1924 of pristine still lifes and nude studies demonstrating Dali’s varied techniques and keen eye for realism in the face of the period’s predominant interest in abstraction. The exhibition continues with experiments in abstraction and perception and includes a pair of paintings that create a three-dimensional experience; in Las Meninas (1975-76), Velázquez’ famous painting of the same name is presented in a stereoscopic interpretation. Composition (1928) reveals Dali’s preoccupation with the Spanish art movement called Anti-Art. This large abstract work, nearly unique in Dali’s entire production, is without horizon or discernible referent. Portrait of Gala with Turban (1939) is an arresting portrait of the artist’s wife. Rendered with meticulous dramatic highlights, the painting gives a sense of the mystique that made her the muse of Picasso and Éluard, as well as Dali. A Propos of the “Treatise on Cubic Form” by Juan de Herrera (1960) issues from Dali’s Nuclear Mysticism and theories inspired by the Spanish mystic Ramon Llull and the Spanish architect Juan de Herrera. Among the last paintings of Dali’s life, works from 1983 reveal the influence of the French mathematician René Thom’s theory of “catastrophe” and Dali’s continuing mystical fascination with aesthetic form. Each painting in the selection amplifies our sense of Dali’s abundant imagination and visual acuity.
The museum has been able to secure these loans from the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in exchange for generously collaborating on the exhibition, Dali, opening at the Centre Pompidou in Paris on November 21, 2012. The exhibit will commemorate the thirty-third anniversary of the last French retrospective of Dali’s work. Dalí will be shown in Madrid beginning April 23rd, 2013.