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Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen Presents It's all Dalí
Salvador Dalí. Mae West Lips sofa. Flannel and wood, 92 x 215 x 26 cm, 1938.

ROTTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS.- Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen presents It’s all Dalí - Film, Fashion, Photography, Design, Advertising, Painting, through 12 June 2005. A refreshing look at a multifaceted oeuvre. Salvador Dalí (1904 - 1989) became world-famous as the icon of surrealism. His regular cooperation with photographers, fashion designers and filmmakers is less well-known.

Dalí was one of the first artists of the twentieth century to become highly inspired by the opportunities popular culture had to offer. He was active in areas such as film, fashion, photography, advertising, theatre and design and proved a master in manipulating these media. Perfume bottles, extravagant designs for gowns, cartoons for Walt Disney, film scenes, illustrations for Vogue or a surrealistic fairground attraction at the World’s Fair: Dalí used every opportunity to reach the masses.

This large-scale exhibition at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, which centres around a number of themes, consists of over 400 works of art, including works on loan from around the world, and takes up the three main exhibition halls of the museum.

Dalí and modern life - Dalí has a keen eye for the power and opportunities offered by the upcoming mass media. He is not afraid of producing ‘banal’ expressions of culture and happily paints coca cola bottles, baseball players and packets of cigarettes. In his collages, he ingeniously mixes commercial prints with painted images, and – long before Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons – manages to confuse the art world by tampering with such notions as ‘copy’ and ‘original’. Dalí is also fascinated by political and scientific developments. In 1939, he leaves for London to exchange ideas with Sigmund Freud about his research into the subconscious. Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity, nuclear research and Freud’s psychoanalysis exert great influence on Dalí’s work, as is manifest in The Madonna of Rafael at maximum speed (1954) and Apparatus and Hand (1927).

Film - Dalí was passionate about the medium of film; it was the perfect medium to give form and shape to his alienating ideas. Un chien Andalou (1929) and L’Âge d’or (1930), two films Salvador Dalí produced with Luis Buñuel, still epitomize surrealistic cinema.
The films show a world in which dream and reality become one; the candid sexual references and shocking images were notorious at the time: one of the most famous scenes is that of a razor blade cutting a woman’s eye. Both films are on show during the exhibition, and are accompanied by a large number of paintings, sketches and drawings that Dalí developed for other film projects.

Dalí became inspired by Hollywood, as is evident in the painting Shirley Temple, the Youngest, Most Sacred Monster of the Cinema in her Time (1939). His fascination with Mae West resulted in a collage that takes her face as the starting point for a comfortable apartment. One element in the apartment is a sofa. The sofa took the shape of her sensual mouth and was produced in a variety of materials. This sofa was acquired and restored by the museum in 2003.

Hollywood also took an interest in Dalí. Alfred Hitchcock asked Dalí to design a dream scene for his film Spellbound (1945). It was one of the first films to take Freud’s psychoanalysis as its central theme. In addition to this dream scene from Spellbound, Dalí’s original set designs are on display at the exhibition.

In 1941, Walt Disney invited Dalí to make a 6-minute cartoon, based on the Mexican song ‘Destino’. After two months of drawing and an animation of 15 seconds, the project was cancelled in 1946. It was not completed until 2002. This 6-minute cartoon will be on display for the first time in the Netherlands and will be accompanied by some twenty drawings, storyboards and oil paintings that were kept in the Walt Disney archives.

Fashion - When Dalí dives into the world of the ‘Beau Monde’ in the nineteen thirties, he meets the super rich who make up the aristocracy and the ‘haute bourgeoisie’ and who are dressed by the best fashion designers. They want to be entertained by the surrealists who cause quite a stir with their pamphlets, exhibitions and noisy public performances. Dalí rises to the challenge and starts to cooperate with the famous fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli (the creator of the colour shocking pink). Of all the designers, she was closest to the Surrealists.

The designs Dalí makes for the Italian fashion designer include a hat in the shape of a shoe, a pink suede belt with a buckle of lips, a ‘dress of rags’ and a ‘woman’s suit with drawers’. He also designs perfume bottles, textile designs, and ads for cosmetics. These and designs for fabrics, fashion photographs and other fashion-related objects can be admired at the exhibition as well as a special ‘costume for the year 2045’ which Dalí developed together with Christian Dior in 1950.

Photography - Dalí worked with well-known photographers, such as Man Ray, Brassaï, Cecil Beaton and Philippe Halsman. Some of the work he did in 1933 with Man Ray, the main photographer of the Surrealists, is on display. The photographs were published in the magazine Minotaure, as were the photographs Dalí made with Brassaï. With Man Ray and Brassaï, Dalí mainly explored nature, whereas with the fashion photographers Philippe Halsman and Cecil Beaton, Dalí chose very different topics. Work by Cecil Beaton includes the portraits he made in 1936 of Dalí and his wife Gala as A Couple with Their Heads Full of Clouds. Together with Philippe Halsman, Dalí created the absurd Dalí Atomica series which is inspired by Dalí’s painting Leda Atomica (1948) showing a painter’s easel, three cats, a bucket of water and Dalí himself floating in the air.

Dream of Venus - For the World’s Fair of 1939 in New York, Dalí produced a surrealistic fairground attraction in which a nude Venus ‘affected by the fever of love’ reclined on a red satin bed. The entire work is a mixture between a surrealistic object and a funhouse, peopled by mermaids, mannequins, giraffes and cadavers exquis. The Dream of Venus (1939), a polyptych in four parts, – the only preserved element – has been brought to Rotterdam for It’s All Dalí. Over forty unique documents, including photographs, colour slides by Eric Schaal and an 8 millimetre film from 1939 once again bring this unique Dalí installation to life.

Advertising and print - Dalí is extremely popular with commissioning parties due to his fame – Dalí’s portrait appears on the cover of Time magazine in 1936 – and his bizarre ideas that are stylized to perfection. While in the United States, he fully dedicates himself to ‘commercial art’. He is in great demand as an illustrator, designer and creator of commercials.

His drawings appear in magazines such as The American Weekly, Vogue and Town & Country. For ‘Bryans Hosiery’, a manufacturer of panty hoses, Dalí designs ads that feature the female leg in a Dalinesque-erotic role.In the mid-nineteen forties Dalí even publishes his own newspaper: the satirical Dalí News which serves no other purpose than to enlarge Dalí the phenomenon. After his return to Europe (1949), Dalí remains active as a designer. Among other things, he designs a packing box for Perrier, perfume bottles and record sleeves. With the greatest of ease, he also designs television commercials for Alka Seltzer, Nissan and Chocolat Lanvin (“Je suis fou!! Du Chocolat Lanvin!”). These will also be on view during the exhibition.

Theatre - It is the poet García Lorca (1898-1936) who introduces his friend and fellow-student Dalí to the theatre. Dalí designs the sets for the successful production of Marina Pineda (1927) for Lorca. After some time, Dalí is no long

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March 7, 2005

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