Thursday, December 24, 2015

Dali Museum -- Escher

For our last day in Tampa we decided to go to the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg.  They have a wonderful collection of the works by Salvador Dali that was collected by Reynolds and Eleanor Morse. The collection was first displayed in Cleveland before being moved to Florida in 1982.  The current building opened in 2011.  In addition to Dali there was a special exhibit with works by Maurits Cornelis Escher. 
We knew we were in for a very neat experience as soon as we saw the unusual, beautiful building. The entrance is surrounded by a Grotto, a Fountain of Youth and a Living Wall covered with native plants.
Here we are in the Grotto by the Fountain of Youth.  We were very tempted to take a sip of that water but we passed.
The back of the building is part Dali abstraction and part Buckminister Fuller geodesic dome.  The round shape makes for some very interesting reflections.
Behind the building is an interesting garden.  What would a Dali museum be without a giant mustache sculpture.  While Nanc has never seen me without a mustache, mine was never quite like Dali's.
Even the bench is pure Dali where relaxing just makes time melt away.  The garden has outdoor seating for the cafe, the above sculptures, a labyrinth and a wish tree where you can make a wish as you tie your wrist bands to the tree,  are all very neat.
The unique style continued inside with a spiral staircase that appears to climb to the ceiling as the steps stop and the spiral continues to rise.
From below the spiral looks like it touches the geodesic skylight.  The building itself is worth a look even before you check out the art.
Dali, who was born in Spain in 1904, began painting at an early age.  This painting of a coastal Spanish village that he painted when he was 14 is one of his earliest works. 
As part of his classical artist training Dali painted this self portrait.
This painting is one of his first surreal works where he started using the technique of painting people from behind and using distorted shapes.  In this case the woman being so large in the foreground.  
This painting, Gala (Dali's wife) Contemplating the Mediterranean Sea, is the most unique painting I have ever seen.  When you are standing close to it you see the nude figure and the sea beyond the window.  As you get farther away it becomes a portrait of Abraham Lincoln.  Truly unbelievable!!  
One of Dali's early surrealist works, The First Days of Spring, (1929) is loaded with the symbolism of sex and Dali's fears that became part of all his work.  If you look closely in the upper right corner you can see the reflection of Lincoln from the previous painting.  
This is the same painting from a distance and as you can see it has become a portrait of Lincoln.  I have seen many paintings that have faces or figures hidden in the work but never one that changes so dramatically according to how close or far away you are standing.
The Ecumenical Council is one of several large (118 in X 110 in) Dali paintings on display.  It was painted in 1958 as a celebration of Pope John XXIII reaching out to the Archbishop of Canterbury, an act that reflects Dali's hope in religion after the destruction of WWII. 
Geopoliticus Child Watching the Birth of the New Man, painted in 1943, reflects Dali's belief that America was the emerging power with its hand crushing Europe as the third world continents South America and Africa grow in importance.
The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory shows Dali's interest in the atom with its destructive power while being what makes all things.  Just the chance to see so many works by Dali is well worth a visit to this museum, but they also have the works of others on extended, temporary exhibits.

We were happy that the current special exhibit was the works of M. C. Escher. We have seen Escher exhibits at other museums, but never one that was this extensive with 135 pieces.  The work on display includes his woodcuts, lithographs. wood carvings drawings and sketches. No photos were allowed in this exhibit, but here are a few I found on line that we got to see.  
Belvedere is an example of Escher's works that show structures that would be impossible to build.  Here the tops of the columns are in the back of the structure while the bottom of the same column is at the front creating a strange illusion.
Bond of Union shows portraits of Escher and his wife Jetta that are intertwined on what looks like a fruit peel.  
This picture does not do justice to the woodcut print, Metamorphosis II, that was displayed on one 13 foot long print.  The inspiration for this work came from Escher's interest in math and his interest in the mosaic floors he viewed during his visits to Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain.  It was printed using 20 blocks. 
This piece, Relativity, depicts a world in which the normal laws of gravity do not apply.  The figures that meet on the steps are not only going in opposite directions but are on different planes.  

While the Escher exhibit will be over in early January we highly recommend a visit to the Dali Museum.  They always have a wonderful display of Dali's work along with other special exhibits. 


Bobbie and Jim said...

Oh, my, what a beautiful post. Escher is my all time favorite artist, and Dali is a close second, so I really enjoyed your post. Thank you.

Doing It On the Road(Part II) said...

One of our favorite places! Safe travels.