AO On Site – Stockholm: Dali Dali featuring Francesco Vezzoli at the Moderna Museet through January 17th 2010

January 11th, 2010

Salvador Dalí
, Francesco Vezzoli (1998, cotton embroidery on canvas) via Art Forum

With only two weeks left in the exhibition, all of Stockholm was out to see “Dalí Dalí featuring Francesco Vezzoli” at Moderna Museet. The exhibition presents a retrospective of Salvador Dali, as well as his influence on contemporary artist Francesco Vezzoli. According to the exhibition’ curator, John Peter Nilsson, the show “examines the role of the artist in today’s celebrity-obsessed society, and of these two artists’ disingenuous relationship with mass media and power.” At once, it puts Dali’s oeuvre in a contemporary context and creates a historical perspective through which Vezzoli’s work may be understood.

for more story and relevant links after the jump…

Salvador Dali, born in 1903 in Figueres, Spain, is one of art history’s more eccentric characters. Dali who counted amongst his friends Marcel Duchamp, Andre Breton, Rene Magritte, and Max Ernst,  was an important figure in the founding of the Surrealist movement and an influential predecessor to pop art of the 1960’s.

The show begins in the museum’s lobby, where three plastic lip-shaped couches surround a TV and spinning disco ball. A sensationalist wall quotation announces, “‘I believe in general in death but in the death of Salvador Dali absolutely not.’ – Salvador Dali, 1958.” On the screen, Vezzoli describes the reason for his obsession with Dali– the first celebrity artist– and why he is so excited to show in the Moderna Museet: it is a museum of integrity, and in his opinion, unlike many other modern art museums, still modern.

As one exits this plush environment into the first room of the exhibition, a stark contrast awaits. The first room presents a typical retrospective: Dali’s seminal surrealist paintings mounted on white walls and whimsical sculptures encased in glass vitrines. Fifty delicate sketches encompass one wall.

, Salvador Dali (1937) via Moderna Museet

In “Sleep” (1937) one sees a desert landscape and a man’s face stretched out, resting on pins– an image Vezzoli later appropriates. The viewer is then given the choice of three sets of double-doors through which to continue their journey– but one set, a metaphor for the unattainable, is locked.

Each entrance to the second area of the exhibition brings the viewer into a less austere, more luxe exhibition area. Tan walls, a purple carpet (purple being a favorite color of the Surrealists), and dressing-room-style lighting guide the visitor through photographs and videos portraying Dali’s celebrity persona. The photographs, by Philippe Halsman, portray Dali as an eccentric: Dali with an eye patch, Dali spearing money with his mustache, Dali surrounded by flying cats. A video highlights the artist’s obsession with his styled mustache. As the double title suggests, the viewer is introduced to the dichotomy between Dali the painter and Dali the celebrity.

Spanish Painter Salvador Dali
, Philipp Halsman (1954) via Moderna Museet

The exhibition also presents a side of the artist not many know, that of Dali’s interest in commercial design. In addition to the artist’s own newspaper, the Dali News, which announces his forthcoming projects and collaborations, he designed jewelry, perfume bottles, lobster phones, and, at the request of close friend Marcel Duchamp, a chessboard with pawns modeled after Dali’s own fingers. He painted three separate covers for Vogue in the 1930s and -40s, and in 1969 he designed posters for the Eurovision Song Contest.

- J. Lindblad

Relevant Links:
Moderna Museet- Exhibition Page


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