The museum more or less displays Dali's works in the order in which they were created. Typically when you view an artist's early work, you get a glimmer of what's to come. Not so with Dali. You can't imagine how surprised I was to see his early impressionistic works, which could have been painted by Monet. In fact, in most of his works prior to his surrealistic stage, you can readily see the influence of other artists. In his cubist-like Portrait of My Sister (1923), Picasso's influence is apparent. His Study of a Nude (1925) is reminiscent of Renoir with its fleshy rose colored woman's back. And his 1928 painting The Ram nearly cries out "Matisse" with its cut-out style. I actually had a hard time reconciling my vision of Dali's work with his actual paintings in front of me. One interesting note relating to this time in Dali's life: In the early '20s, he was expelled from art school because he refused to be examined by the baccalaureate committee on the basis that he knew more about Raphael (presumably the subject of the examination) than the committee did. Obviously, Dali's flair for the dramatic was in place at an early age.
Dali's work kept evolving throughout his life, and many of his later works also reminded me of other artists. His Portrait of My Dead Brother (1963) is evocative of Andy Warhol's work. And his 1971 series of lithographs entitled "Les Diners de Gala" included works that called to mind the art of Arcimboldo (a Renaissance painter who was the subject of one of my earlier posts). One of Dali's last works was a hologram of Alice Cooper--it didn't immediately call to mind the work of any other artist, but it certainly was surreal to see a case with the figure of Alice Cooper whirling about!
As you can tell, my outing to the Dali Museum was loads of fun. Seeing the scope of Dali's work is truly stunning. Not only is the art itself varied, the medium is as well. He used oil, pastels, ink and gouche, all to great advantage. And I haven't even touched upon his film work, which you also get a peek at at the Museum! Part of the fun of my outing came in going with my friend Louise, who I've known since high school. As we walked through the galleries, we commented on how lucky we were to be able to see these incredible paintings. We talked about Mrs. McKelvin, our high school humanities teacher, who, introduced us to great art. To my recollection, Mrs. McKelvin had never had the chance to view the paintings in person that she taught about in her class with such passion. To get to spend an afternoon with Dali's works was a real treat, and a reminder that we should never take the opportunities that we have for granted.