Saturday, June 28, 2008

DALI: PAINTING & FILMS

We caught the opening preview of Dali, Painting and Film at the Museum of Modern Art yesterday. Another must see show at the Modern. Dali, Bunuel, all of the Surrealists were essentially a hypermodern thrust into the future that reflected the early 20th century vision of a modernist, secular, humorous, dream-based art culture.

The exhibit presents a breathtaking retrospective of Dali's art and career with its most unique take on his work its structuring around his groundbreaking collaborations with numerous legendary filmmakers,some logical, some mind-blowing: Luis Bunuel, his fellow Surrealist; Walt Disney and Alfred Hitchcock. There is even evidence of pre-production plans to make a film with the Marx Brothers, which would have starred Harpo Marx, who Dali viewed as the most surrealist of Minnie's always surreal and anarchic boys...

Linking classic paintings like the portrait of Luis Bunuel by Dali (my personal favorite), "Persistence of Vision," the spectacularly titled "Dream Prompted by a Bee Buzzing Around A Pomegrantate in the Moment Before Awakening", and other classics, with some of his essential film collaborations, this is a show not to be missed by cineastes, artists and anyone looking for some masterful inspiration and creative input. The opportunity to see some of these films again, as part of the exhibition and not separate screenings, is alone, worth the price of admission. "Un Chien Andalou" which outraged critics with its surreal suggestions of violence, erotic content and anti-Church imagery, also appears, in the estimation of some critics, to have helped set the structure of film and montage that constitutes the language and grammar of the cinema through the present day. "L'Age Dor", another collaboration with Bunuel, continued to outrage and create new images ripped from dreams. He continued his work with Walt Disney and later created Gregory Peck's dreamscapes that he decribes to his shrink, Ingrid Bergman,in Hitchcock's "Spellbound."

Although in his later years, Dali, like many Modernists and Futurists, including Ezra Pound, tended to gravitate toward political figures who offered modernization and more secular social orders in response to the power of the Church in western Europe, such as Franco (ugh)and even (yech) Hitler, Salvador Dali still continues to explore creative expression through any means avaialble. Like Andy Warhol, another creative collaborator, he used film, commerce, store windows, advertising -- anything could serve as a window that would allow him to share with the world his art and his powerful, cubist and surrealist vision. A great show, in previews through June 28. Opens June 29 through September 21. Musuem of Modern Art, 53rd street, between 5th and 6th avenues, NYC.

Also, another very notable exhibit, Olafur Eliasson's Take Your Time. Besides his fantastic and highly publicized waterfall project, the Scandinavian artist has a number of works here, all exploring light, vision and environment. The lobby of the Special Exhibitions gallaery on the 3rd floor is recast as a monochromatic world here, where the high-pressure sodium lights drain all color from skin and clothing. Like you are in a sci-fi world. Also, you may want to note that the seeming "line to nowhere" at entrance to the Eliasson exhibit, which leads to a spectacular mirrored alcove, is well worth the wait. Additional work also at PS 1. At MOMA through June 30. The sculpture garden remains a cool place to hang with a glass of wine or a gelato.

We also went across the street to visit "Dargerism" and "Asa Ames" at the Museum of AMerican Folk Art. I love this museum, too, but Henry Darger still strikes me as Art Brut/Outsider Art that I can live without. Any art that reeks of exploitation of kids, even if by a talented, visionary, naif, doesn't do it for me. Never has, never will. The wood sculpture by Asa Ames is a relatively thin exhibit but worth catching, as is the always excellent permanent collection.

http://www.moma.org/exhibitions/index.php

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Current Reading

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