Melbourne, 11 June 2009
The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) in Melbourne is holding the exhibition Salvador Dalí: Liquid Desire, which can be seen from 13 June to 4 October 2009. The official ceremonies will be held on Thursday, 11 June, with a press conference in the morning presided over by the Premier of the State of Victoria, John Brumby, followed in the afternoon by the official inauguration of the exhibition by the Minister of Culture of Victoria, Lynne Kosky. Both events will be attended by the Chairman of the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation, Ramon Boixadós, the Director of the Centre for Dalinian Studies, Montse Aguer, and the Managing Director, Joan Manuel Sevillano.
Explanation and context
This is the most comprehensive retrospective of Salvador Dalí ever to have been held in Australia, and it will be organised by the National Gallery of Victoria within the framework of the latest edition of Melbourne Winter Masterpieces, a government initiative promoted by the State of Victoria.
The first time that a Dalí could be seen in Australia was in 1939, when the work Memory of the Child-Woman was exhibited. That work was received amidst much controversy due to its alleged Freudian content. It formed part of an exhibition entitled Herald Exhibition of French and British Contemporary Art, and visited the cities of Adelaide and Melbourne.
The curators of that exhibition wished to show Australia what had been happening in Europe since Impressionism, though of the 217 works on view only Dalí’s drew outraged criticism due to the supposed ‘obscenity’ of the piece. That was why the Director of the NGV in that period did not want to exhibit it at his museum. The exhibition devoted to Surrealism remained in Australia during the Second World War, and in 1943 was shown for a second time to the public of Melbourne, and that time at the NGV, by then under new management. The work now belongs to the Salvador Dalí Museum of Florida, and can be seen once again in the Australian city where it aroused such great expectation.
The National Gallery of Victoria
This is the most important cultural institution of the State of Victoria. It opened its doors in 1861, and in 1990 divided its collection into two sites. On the one hand there is the NGV Australia in the Ian Potter Centre building, which houses the most extensive collection of Aborigine art and has played a prominent role in the salvaging and study of that major legacy of humanity; and on the other hand there is the NGV International in St. Kilda Road, in a refurbished building that houses international art in facilities that are first-rate in terms both of infrastructures and of technological equipment.
Content of the exhibition
Salvador Dalí: Liquid Desire brings together over 200 works by Salvador Dalí in all the disciplines, including painting, drawing, watercolours, engravings, sculptures, fashion, jewellery, cinema and photography. The works come from two of the world’s largest Salvador Dalí collections: the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation (Figueres) and the Salvador Dalí Museum of Sant Petersbug (Florida).
The Director of the NGV, Gerard Vaughan, declares that “Dalí’s life spanned almost a century of dramatic social and artistic changes. Salvador Dalí: Liquid Desire traces the extraordinary innovation Dalí brought to his art at every stage of his remarkable career, from his earliest years as an exceptionally talented 14-year-old to the final majestic paintings created when the artist was in his seventies. The exhibition is testament to the NGV’s first class reputation for staging and managing exhibitions of international significance”. And he adds: “it has been an absolute pleasure to collaborate with our colleagues from Figueres and Florida to bring this fantastic exhibition to Australia”.
Salvador Dalí: Liquid Desire explores Dalí’s excellence through chronologically ordered sections, the first of which shows visitors a skilful young Impressionist painter through a work that is considered his first masterpiece: Self-Portrait with Raphaelesque Neck. The exhibition then looks at his experimentation with cubism, abstract art, neoclassicism and the new objectivism Dalí engaged in during his student period, as well as his leading role within the Surrealist movement in Paris in the 1930s.
Ted Gott, Senior Curator of International Art of the NGV, asserts that Dalí’s artistic imagination drew nourishment constantly from the abrupt and romantic landscapes of his native Catalonia. “These stunning landscapes, infused with his unique imagination, informed the classic Surrealist paintings with which Dalí astonished the art world in the early 1930s and for which he is so well known for today.” A good selection of works from the French Surrealist period is included in the exhibition.
Salvador Dalí: Liquid Desire also includes Dalí’s most significant work belonging to an Australian collection, Lobster Telephone, which is at the National Gallery of Australia and is one of the most famous sculptures of the 20th century.
Visitors will also undertake an overview of Dalí’s contribution to 20th-century cinema, starting with his collaboration with Luis Buñuel, then moving on to his involvement with Alfred Hitchcock and other Hollywood directors during the 1940s.
The curators have described Dalí as “one of the great innovators of twentieth-century art history, whose extraordinary artistic contribution goes beyond Surrealism. He was a true genius in all aspects, a giant on the world scenario, one whose art influenced the generations that came after him, and not only his own generation. There was nothing he could not do”.
Salvador Dalí: Liquid Desire is organised by the National Gallery of Victoria (Melbourne), together with the Gala–Salvador Dalí Foundation (Figueres) and the Salvador Dalí Museum of Sant Petersburg (Florida). It is curated by Montse Aguer, Director of the Centre for Dalinian Studies of the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation, Joan Kropf, Curator of the Salvador Dalí Museum (Florida), and Ted Gott, Senior Curator of the NGV.