The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Monday, February 28, 2005  

Philadelphia’s Hot Cultural Ticket

Enjoy a few more reviews of “Dalí,” now on display at the Philadelphia Museum of Art:

“A Sweeping Triumph of Surrealism and Social Significance,” by Clare Henry, Financial Times, February 28. Pull quotes: “Few artists can sustain a major, exhaustive retrospective without being diminished in some way. Happily, Salvador Dalí, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, is not only a superb tribute to the painter’s centenary, but also a definitive exhibition that repositions this controversial figure as a great 20th-century artist. . . . After a debut in Venice, Philadelphia is, regrettably, the only venue in North America for this enthralling show, which will give its viewers a new appreciation of this enormously gifted painter.”

“Surreality Show,” by Dan Bischoff, Newark Star-Ledger, February 20. Pull quote: “Well hello, Dalí.” Argh! And then: “It’s so nice to have the Catalonian tornado back where he belongs -- not, unfortunately, in the city he made his home for so long, New York, but then not in St. Petersburg, Fla., either, where he put his American museum, down there among the flamingoes and Art Deco beach resorts and Jeb Bush.” You got a problem with Philadelphia, Dan?

“The Surreal Life,” by Carol Strickland, The Christian Science Monitor, February 25. Pull quotes: “`Best in Show’ honors for the current retrospective go to ‘Soft Construction with Boiled Beans (Premonition of Civil War),’ Dalí’s haunting evocation of the Spanish Civil War. In this antiwar painting, an agonized head screams to the sky. Its gnarled toes grip a desolate landscape. The distorted figure, its belly a void roughly the shape of Spain, hints at the cannibalistic corrosion of European civilization in 1936.” And: “One could fault Dalí for constant trendiness, as his style hopscotched from one fad to the next. Dalí’s output often seems like a refracted mirror of the Top 40 of Great Art. He mimics and puts his own spin on movements (like Impressionism, post-Impressionism, Fauvism, Cubism, Neoclassicism) and masters like Vermeer, Goya, Raphael, and -- above all -- his countryman Picasso. Yet it’s not fair to say Dalí was a follower. Even though his influences were legion, as the Dalí scholar Dawn Ades, cocurator of the current show, says, ‘He was always plowing his own furrow.’ Metamorphosis was his game, and his coded subjects -- regardless of the style du jour -- were always the Freudian bugbears of death, sex, and family crisis.”

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