Dalí exhibit at Selby Gardens brings surrealism to the natural world
For those with even a casual interest in art, the name Salvador Dalí is synonymous with surrealism, and for almost everyone the name is sure to conjure up two images: the second being of the Dalí himself, who loved to publicly present himself as the wild-eyed mad genius with the cartoonishly oversized waxed mustache.
We’ll get the the first image in a second.
But there was much more to the genius than immediately meets the eye, says Dr. Carol Ockman, curator of “Salvador Dalí: Gardens of the Mind,” the fourth annual exhibition in the Jean & Alfred Goldstein Exhibition Series at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens.
This may be the most ambitious entry in series yet, and if it is, it’s because Salvador Dalí’s work is so well-suited for the setting.
“The natural world fascinated Salvador Dalí,” Ockman says, “but not many people focus on that aspect of his work.”
This may be the first time Dalí was presented in a Botanical garden setting, Ockman adds, and the “living museum” of Selby Gardens is a magnificent setting to do so.
“What we want you to feel like when you're going through the conservatory and in the gardens, we want you to feel like you're entering Dalí's imagination,” she says, “you're entering a Dalí dreamscape at every turn.”
The exhibition uses several motifs that that run through Dalí’s work. Which bring us to that first image everyone associates with Dalí: There isn’t a melting clock to be found.
Instead, the exhibition combines Dalí’s frequent use of botanical imagery with motifs and principals he applied throughout his career: juxtaposition, perspective and patterns.
The Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg is co-curator for the exhibition. Its curator of education, Peter Tush, was a valuable contributor to the design of the exhibition, says Selby Gardens Horticulture Director Mike McLaughlin.
“He helped us refine our designs, make sure they were truly Dalí,” McLaughlin says. “And that was one of the challenges we have in designing an exhibit like this, because we could do something surreal or even bizarre. So we needed both Carol and the curators at the Dalí museum to help us define that.”
Visitors can ground their dreamscape stroll in reality in the Museum of Botany & the Arts, where a collection of photographs by Clyde Butcher shows Dali’s beloved home in Spain. As the grand finale to the Dalí exhibition is the rarely displayed lithographic series “Floridalí,” on loan from The Dalí Museum.