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Salvador Dalí: The Image Disappears

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Focusing on the pivotal decade of the 1930s, when Salvador Dalí emerged as the inventor of his own personal brand of Surrealism, this exhibition of approximately 20 paintings, drawings, and surrealist objects considers Dalí’s work in light of two defining, if contradictory, impulses: an immense desire for visibility and the urge to disappear.

Featuring icons of the Art Institute’s Surrealism collection—such as Inventions of the Monsters (1937), Venus de Milo with Drawers (1936), and Mae West’s Face Which May be Used as a Surrealist Apartment (1934–35)—alongside celebrated loans from around the world, the exhibition explores a series of “disappearing acts” undertaken by the artist at the height of his fame.

Dalí cultivated these notions in a variety of ways: in path-breaking experiments with materials and palette, in depictions of exotic and mundane edible items, in surrealist fashions and sculptures with spaces for hiding, and in optically dynamic visual illusions or “double images.” New technical analysis undertaken for this exhibition illuminates further hidden and disappearing imagery within Dalí’s works that offer veiled personal meditations on his wry, sophisticated, and ultimately paranoid approach to art making.

The exhibition is curated by Caitlin Haskell, Gary C. and Frances Comer Curator, Modern and Contemporary Art, and Director, Ray Johnson Collection and Research, and Jennifer Cohen, assistant research curator, Director’s Office.

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