Dalí: Illustrating the Surreal
February 15-May 11, 2014
Location: Memphis Brooks Museum of Art (1934 Poplar Avenue, Memphis, TN 38112)
Admission Info: Included with museum admission
General Day and Time Info: Open during regular museum hours
Parking is available in front of the museum and along the roads within Overton Park.
A street-level public parking lot behind the museum and next to the Overton Park golf course is also available.
Handicap spaces are located in front of the museum’s plaza, near the main.
Though probably best known for his Surrealist oil paintings, Salvador Dalí (1904–1989) was also a remarkably skilled illustrator and printmaker. This exhibition brings together 49 rare, masterful book illustrations by this celebrated, often controversial, artist.
Dalí chose to bring to life literary masterpieces that reflect his fascination with dreams, transformation, and the world of the subconscious. The exhibition features visionary, sometimes almost psychedelic, illustrations for four books. The earliest among these are Dalí’s images for Miguel de Cervantes’ masterwork Don Quixote (1957). Doubtlessly the book’s imagery—such as its delusional hero charging at windmills as if they were enemies—appealed to the artist’s love of fantasy and caprice.
Dalí’s next venture was his illustrations for Hans Christian Anderson’s Fairy Tales (1967). These beautiful and poignant stories, which are often filled with strange symbolism and acts of violence, offered the artist a chance to explore a world of witchcraft, magic, and transformation. No less extraordinary are Dalí’s illustrations for Lewis Carroll’s fanciful Alice in Wonderland (1969). Although a classic of children’s literature, it is easy to imagine how the artist loved the book’s bizarre characters and dream-like atmosphere—which seem to belong more to a Surrealist tale than to a Victorian children’s story.
The exhibition also includes perhaps the most famous of Dalí’s illustrated books, Les dîners de Gala (1973). He filled this volume with recipes by his wife and accompanied them with his own disconcerting images of Surrealist dishes ready for the dining table.