Tuesday Studio: The Late Works of Salvador Dalí

intelligent painters,” Salvador Dalí proclaimed in 1964, “are those who will be
able to integrate into classicism even the wildest experiments, the most
disordered and chaotic of our time…My ambition is to incorporate, to sublimate
my experiments into the great classical tradition.” Although most celebrated
for his abstract and irreverent paintings while a member of the Paris
Surrealist movement, epitomized by the “soft clocks” of 1931’s The Persistence of Memory, Dalí continued
to make art for another half century. In Salvador
Dalí: The Late Work
, Elliot H. King, guest curator at Atlanta’s High
Museum of Art, explores the eccentric Spanish artist’s career from 1940-1983.
Initiated by a strident break with the Surrealists in 1940, Dalí’s later work
is defined by an interest in classicism; a self-proclaimed yearning for realism
over abstraction, for Catholicism over atheism, for integration over
Salvador Dali: The Late Work: Elliott H. King

As King and
others show in the accompanying catalog to the eponymous exhibit currently on
view at the High Museum of Art, Dalí’s later work is closely related in both
approach and theme to the Surrealist experimentation from earlier in his
career. Although his continuous use of Christs and Madonnas highlight an
“unapologetic assault” on Surrealism and abstraction, Dalí maintained his
interest in both science and the unconscious. Throughout his essay and his
examination of the works themselves, King tracks a shift from an interest in the
theory of relativity to a celebration of nuclear energy; from the explicit
revelation of the unconscious in modern abstraction to its recognition as
implicit in all things classical. This important catalog concludes that the
latter 40 years of Dal
í’s career can not simply be dismissed as irrelevant and
derivative. Rather, these decades represent a modified continuation of Dalí’s
previous interests and secure his influence on the next generation of
American and European artists.

To read and
see more of this artist’s work, the exhibition, “Salvador
Dalí: The Late Work,”
will be on show at the High Museum of Art until
January 9, 2011, and the accompanying catalog is available here.

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