Salvador Dalí: Masterpieces from the Collection of the Salvador Dalí Museum

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Harry N. Abrams, Publishers, 1996 - Surrealism - 128 pages
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The Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, houses the most comprehensive collection in the world of the art of Salvador Dali (1904-1989), the renowned Surrealist painter. From the Museum's extensive holdings, forty masterpieces have been selected for this volume by the art historian Kenneth Wach. All forty are reproduced in color, as full-page plates. For each, Mr. Wach has written an illuminating commentary, discussing both the works' style, in art-historical terms, and their often complex psychological content. In addition, the book's general introduction provides a broad overview of Dali's flamboyant career as an artist. It traces the course of Dali's development from his first childhood efforts in Catalonia to his participation in the Surrealist movement in Paris in the 1920s and 1930s, to his sojourn in the United States during World War II and his late works executed in Spain. Among the famous images included here are luminous still lifes from Dali's youth, which show his debts to the Old Masters. There are also a number of his remarkable Surrealist beach scenes, with their mysterious vistas and obsessive sexuality. Several troubled depictions of the distorted human body, dating from the difficult period of the Spanish Civil War and World War II, culminate in the expectant Geopoliticus Child Watching the Birth of the New Man. The volume features as well some prime examples of Dali's later "nuclear mysticism," where traditional religious iconography is joined with motifs taken from modern physics. Notable among the later works is The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory, a radical reinterpretation of his celebrated earlier painting with limp watches, now reconceived in terms of Albert Einstein's theories of space and time. In scale, the works reproduced as colorplates range from Dali's epic, mural-size canvas The Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus to a small, subtly rendered for his Christ of St. John of the Cross. Also illustrated, in black and white, is a representative selection of Dali's drawings, demonstrating his consistently fine draftsmanship through all the phases of his career. A brief preface on the history of the Salvador Dali Museum, a detailed chronology of the artist's life, a bibliography, and an index complete the volume.

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