Friday Favorites 10/5/2012

I first came across Salvador Dali when he turned up on the Johnny Carson Show.   As I recall, he was creating a so-called work of art on a blackboard with a can of Reddi-Whip or Burma Shave.   If you’ve ever seen a Dali performance, with his flamboyant personality and carefully waxed mustache, it would be easy to think he was a comedian, especially as he sprayed shaving cream about the set of the Johnny Carson Show.  On another occasion, he unveiled his latest work, Smoke, which consisted of a veil which, when uncovered, released a cloud of smoke that just floated away.  My mother was not a fan of Mr. Dali but she was careful to point out that he was a real artist, not a clown.  I don’t remember whether she told me that he was a surrealist or whether I discovered that on my own.

Salvador Dali was a relentless self-promoter who believed that public relations were more important than talent for a successful artist.  Although he had amazing talent and a strange but sometimes beautiful vision, his antics … bizarre performance pieces, contributions to advertisements and peculiar television appearances … made him an outcast in the world of art.   This short biography from provides both a glimpse of his eccentricity and his impact on art.

For many years, I associated Dali only with his strange landscapes of melting clocks, distorted and disfigured body parts supported by crutches and strange creatures.   I found them interesting and appreciated the artistry in their renderings, but they were, as you might say, not my cup of art.  Then, in the 1990s, I took on an assignment that landed me in Washington, D.C. on a monthly basis and I began to work my way through the city’s museums … and in particular, the National Gallery of Art.   On a sunny autumn afternoon, I walked into the Mezzanine Lobby of the East Building and saw, for the first time, Dali’s The Sacrament of the Last Supper.  I was simply stunned.  I am not alone: prints of Sacrament have out sold those of any other modern painting.

courtesy National Gallery of Art

There are certainly those disturbed by the juxtaposition of surrealism with a sacred subject, or by the blonde beardless Christ, but many people who see the 8 x 5 foot painting in person feel a sense of spirituality and mystery radiating from the canvas.  Reproductions cannot capture the color or brilliance of Dali’s technique or the way the work seems to be lighted from within.   You can read more about The Sacrament of the Last Supper here at  But you are ever in Washington, D.C., it is worth a trip to the National Gallery of Art to see it.   While you’re there, you can visit several Monets they are holding for me.

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4 Comments on “Friday Favorites 10/5/2012”

  1. I have always been, and I will always be, in LOVE with Salvador Dali

  2. I tend to ignore Dali’s goofiness and try to concentrate on the way he forced us to see things differently in his art. To me he’s like the painter’s version of John Waters or something like that. Anyway, it’s very kind of the museum to hold those Monets for you – I tried that at Musee D’Orsay and they wouldn’t go for it. Maybe my French was rusty.

  3. Art and performance are combined in to one with Dali. He went beyond what was typical and will be remembered long after the conventional artests of his day are long fogotten. Wow what an inspiring painting, I would have never guessed it was a Dali it shows just how much of a true artest he realy was. Thanks older eyes !

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