Art For Hoi Polloi: Salvador Dali


Lowbrow meets lowbrow: Rocky emulators sprint up the visage of Salvador Dali.

Recently I came across a live webcam of a construction site in St. Petersburg, Florida.  I was surprised to find not only active workers but fairly interesting activities going on, and I zoomed in to watch a pair of laborers installing triangular glass panes into a large, metallic lattice that bulged from a concrete edifice.  The structure looked somewhat odd for a conventional building but rather conservative for its intended purpose:  the next home of the Salvador Dali Museum.  Given the famous surrealist’s iconic imagery of melting watches and drooping appendages propped up by crutches, one might have expected a design that abandoned recognizable geometric forms altogether.

The new facility, slated to open in 2011, is only a few blocks from the current museum, but it will offer fifty percent more gallery space and more than twice the overall area.  More importantly, it will provide robust shelter from violent storms for its collection in a way that the present building does not;  so vulnerable is the existing museum to damage that its exhibits must be removed and stored during severe weather warnings.  Constructing a more secure home for these treasures sounds sensible to me, because I would hate for the world to lose the original work of such an incredibly talented and imaginative artist.  I have been captivated by Dali’s art all of my life, and obviously many people feel the same way.  Why, then, do I have the nagging sense that serious critics would dismiss his oeuvre as pandering to the lowest common denominator?

Perhaps because it does. Read More

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