By Chesney Hearst, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The largest retrospective of Salvador Dalí in Latin America opened on May 30th at Rio’s Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil (CCBB) and will run through September 22nd. The free exhibition gives viewers a deeper understanding of the famous surrealist artist’s oeuvre and inspirations behind it through the display of some 150 of his works including over thirty paintings, eighty prints, documents, photographs, illustrations and films.
“Salvador Dalí had the distinction of opening the windows of contemporary art,” Marcelo Mendonça, general manager of CCBB told O Globo. “He was curious and provocative. And, it’s all here. It is a walk through the life and work of Salvador Dalí.”
Dalí was a prolific artist, creating over 1,500 paintings during his lifetime in addition to conceptual art sculptures, performance pieces, prints, collaborative films and photos, writings, print ads, commercials and scenery for plays and films.
The one thousand square meter main floor of the CCBB houses Dalí works made between 1920 and 1989, the year of his death. Included are his surrealist works, as well as his cubist and impressionist pieces.
“The main room is devoted to surrealism, there are many surrealist works,” Montse Aguer, curator of director of the Center for Studies Dalinianos Foundation Gala told G1 Globo. “But of course, we wanted to show the whole trajectory of Dalí.”
A notable work in the current exhibit is Dalí’s “Figuras tumbadas en la arena”, a 1926 piece inspired by a meeting with cubist artist Pablo Piscasso, that together with his interactions with other artists including Joan Miró, led Dalí to his first phase of surrealism.
Born Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dalí i Domènech on May 11, 1904 in Figueres, Spain, Dalí began drawing at age three and was an accomplished painter by the tender age of ten. He was sent to art school by his mother, who he lost at age sixteen due to breast cancer.
Dalí held his first art exhibition at age fifteen at the Municipal Theater in Figueres and in 1922 he went on to attend school in Madrid. There he made friends with the likes of Luis Buñuel and Federico García Lorca, among others.
He would later collaborate with Buñuel on the silent surrealist short film “Un Chien Andalou“. The film is being screened as part of the exhibition along with additional films Dalí contributed to including; 1930s “L’age d’Or” (“The Age of Gold”) and Alfred Hitchcock’s 1945 film, “Spellbound”, for which Dalí designed the backdrops for the dream sequences.
Also on display at the CCBB are Dalí’s early paintings including; 1920s “Retrato del padre y casa de Es Llaner” and 1929s “Monumento imperial a la mujer-niña”. It was in 1929, that Dalí first met his future wife Gala, a woman that would prove to be a driving force in his career and his major source of inspiration throughout his life.
Apart from his creative works, Dalí was well known for his eccentricities, controversies, exhibitionist tendencies and his flair for public relations and self promotion. In 1960 Dalí began work on the Dalí Theatre and Museum in his hometown of Figueres.
In homage to himself, his works and life, the complex includes the former Municipal Theater building, the site of his first exhibition. Opened in 1971, Dalí called the complex “the largest surrealistic object in the world” and it appropriately houses the largest collection of his works.
Many of the works currently on display at CCBB Rio are on loan from the Dalí Theatre and Museum, along with over ten oil paintings from Madrid’s Reina Sofia Museum and nine paintings from the Salvador Dali Museum located in Florida, United States.
After Rio, the exhibition will move to the Tomie Ohtake Institute in São Paulo.
What: Salvador Dalí Exhibition
When: May 30th – September 22nd, Wednesdays through Mondays, 9AM-9PM.
Where: CCBB Rio, Rua Primeiro de Março 66, Centro