High Museum’s “Dali: The Late Work” dazzles at media preview


In short, “Salvador Dali: The Late Work,” opening to the public this
Saturday at the High Museum of Art, is an outside-the-box exhibition
that should make Atlantans once again grateful to have a world-class art
museum within footsteps of home.

On Tuesday, a room full of media types were treated to an advance look
at the first -ever major exhibition to celebrate the surrealist’s
controversial last half of a prolific career.

For decades, Dali’s later visual adventures into Catholicism, inventing
the concept of “nuclear mysticism,” all while creating a template for
the modern, media savvy “celebrity artist” have been virtually been
ignored by serious-minded art critics.

Explained High Museum director Michael Shapiro: “We could have
added the word ‘reconsidered’ to the title. For years, art historians
have taught us that Dali was a brilliant shooting star of talent who, in
1940, began a descent from which he never emerged. I must admit, I
drank the Kool-Aid.”

The exhibition’s guest curator Elliott King told Intel that even 12 years ago a show devoted to Dali’s later works would have been “unimaginable.”

King credits Dali shows in 2000 and 2004 that included some seldom seen
later pieces with “creating a lot of energy and new interest.”

Added King: “The public never had to reassess its thinking on Dali
because it was never been much of an issue there. It was much more of a
question with art critics, however. But over the past few years, there’s
been a shift. It opened the door for this.”

The High’s ground-breaking exhibition is a collaboration with the
Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida and the Fundacio
Gala-Salvador Dali in Figueres, Spain.

Highlights include the mammoth paintings “Christ of St. John of the
Cross” and “Santiago El Grande,” a work not seen in public since 1959.

Dali’s establishment-poking, often laugh-out-loud funny pop art is
collected in its own section of the High, the walls of which are painted
an appropriate bubble gum pink for the occasion (sets of red and blue
lensed 3-D glasses have been wired to the wall in order to properly view
Dali’s wilder pieces).

The artist’s later works provided inspiration (not to mention a lucrative business plan) for proteges Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Willem de Kooning.

Intel urges you to spend some time in the Dali-centric gift shop upon exiting.

Art lovers can pick up the gorgeous, authoritative official catalog of
the show published by the High Museum of Art and Yale University. Other
cool offerings include “The Secret Life of Salvador Dali,” the artist’s
fascinating 1942 memoir, “Dali’s Mustache,” his hilarious 1954 photo
collaboration with photographer Phillippe Halsman and the DVD “Dali in New York,” a quirky, quickie 1965 documentary directed by Jack Bond.

The exhibit’s audio tour includes commentary from experts, admirers and rocker Alice Cooper, the subject of Dali’s 1973 hologram “Portrait of Alice Cooper’s Brain.”

Kids, meanwhile,  get to enjoy their own audio tour created especially for younger art fans and narrated by Dali’s mustache.

“Dali: The Late Work” runs through January 9, 2011.

For tickets to the exhibition or to attend Saturday night’s opening Surreal Soiree at the High, go to the museum’s official website.