Rare exhibition of Salvador Dalí drawings at Dali Museum

Experience the rare opportunity to see Salvador Dalí drawings, seldom seen fragile works on paper highlighting the artist’s creative process throughout the many phases of his career in “Where Ideas Come From: Dalí’s Drawings,” on view May 27-October 22 at The Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, FL.

The Salvador Dalí drawings exhibition chronicles the movement of the renowned Surrealist’s imagination through more than 100 pencil, pen, charcoal, watercolor and gouache works, many of which have been secured in the Museum’s vault for more than three decades and likely will not be displayed again for many years to come.

“Where Ideas Come From” also marks the debut of two recent Surrealist acquisitions by The Dalí: “Drawing for ‘Bacchanale,’ Ludwig II of Bavaria” (1939), a ballet-inspired portrait of King Ludwig II of Bavaria, and “Untitled (Paranoiac Face)” (c. 1935), a frontispiece dedicated to Paul Éluard from Dalí’s book “Conquest of the Irrational.”

“It is a privilege to share these works from the Museum’s permanent collection and we welcome visitors to take a closer look at how Dalí brought his ideas to the world, which we hope offers a spark of creativity and inspiration for our guests,” Hank Hine, the Museum’s executive director, said.

“Where Ideas Come From: Dalí’s Drawings” is curated by Peter Tush, The Dalí’s curator of education. More than 60 of the works he curated for the exhibition were conserved in the past year through projects made possible by the Dalí Museum Keepers of the Collection, a group of donors who raise funds for conservation.

“As the Museum’s collection nears 100 years of age, conservation is essential in advancing our mission to preserve Dalí’s legacy,” Tush said. “This is especially important for works on paper, which are very fragile and sensitive to light.”

A Salvador Dalí drawings exhibition catalog featuring all 166 works on paper in The Dalí’s permanent collection is available at the Museum Store and serves as a companion to The Dalí Museum’s oil paintings catalog published in 2021.

About the Exhibition

The Dalí Museum organizes “Where Ideas Come From” chronologically, presenting Salvador Dalí drawings that date from 1916 to 1974. Four sections — Early Period; Surrealism; Nuclear Mysticism, Classicism and Religion; and Late Period — feature studies for major oil paintings, portraits, experimental drawing techniques and commercial projects, including film.

The Early Period opens with student sketches, book illustrations, poster designs and self-portraits that demonstrate Dalí’s journey from Classicism to Cubism and eventually anti-art. The works also showcase his natural mastery of drawing and painting techniques. Dalí learned to draw at a young age and adopted the approach of Old Master painters in his work.

The Dalí anchors the Surrealism section with studies for such works as “The Weaning of Furniture Nutrition” (1934), illustrations for the poetic novel “Le Chants de Maldoror” (1940) and examples of Dalí’s experimentation with various Surrealist drawing techniques. This section also features “Study for ‘Disappearing Images’” (1939) which marks the beginnings of “Old Age, Adolescence Infancy (The Three Ages),” a significant 1940 double image oil painting in The Dalí’s collection.

Following World War II, Dalí coined himself a classicist and “Nuclear Mystical painter.” This section includes illustrations for works by the Italian poet, writer and philosopher Dante Alighieri and the ballet “Tres Picos,” familiar motifs of exploding watches, flies, disintegrating figures and religious-tinged images of dissolving angels. In “Study for Soft Watch Exploding” (1954), the sketch for “Soft Watch at the Moment of the First Explosion,” Dalí presents an object that has disintegrated into nearly unrecognizable particles. Transformations and studies for “The Sacrament of the Last Supper” (1955) and “Christ of St. John of the Cross” (1951) round out this section.

The final section of this Salvador Dalí drawings presentation, Late Period, includes diverse selections with small studies of “The Hallucinogenic Toreador” (1969-1970) and “Galacidalacidesoxiribunucleicacid (Homage to Crick and Watson)” (1962-1963), both in the Museum’s oil collection. The exhibition concludes with the 1974 “Iceberg” sketch, a self-portrait Dalí gifted to the founders of The Dalí Museum, A. Reynolds and Eleanor Morse.

After viewing a multitude of Dalí’s sketches, experiments and finished drawings, visitors to The Dalí will also have a chance to try their hand at drawing like the Surrealist icon. A series of instructional videos, sketchpads and pencils are available for visitors to create symbolic Dalinian imagery or other ideas inspired by the exhibit.

Highwaymen Art Specialists

About The Dalí Museum

The Dalí Museum, located in downtown St. Petersburg, FL is home to one of the most acclaimed collections of a single modern artist in the world, with over 2,000 works representing every moment and medium of Salvador Dalí’s creative life. The Dalí is recognized internationally by the Michelin Guide with a three-star rating; has been deemed “one of the top buildings to see in your lifetime” by AOL Travel News; and was named one of the 10 most interesting museums in the world by Architectural Digest.

The Museum is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to preserve Dalí’s legacy for generations to come and serve as an active resource in the cultural life of the community and the world at large. 

The Dalí is open daily, located at One Dalí Boulevard, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.

For more information, visit TheDalí.org or download the free Dalí Museum App.

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