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Salvador Dali's Surrealism, Dante's "Divine Comedy" merge at Arlington Museum of Art

November 6, 2017

 

                                                                                                                                     (photo by Karen Gavis)

 

Visions of Eternity, which runs through January 21 at the Arlington Museum of Art, takes visitors through a surreal sampling of Salvador Dali’s work.

 

The exhibit features a collection of 101 lithographs from Dante’s “The Divine Comedy” which depict thought-provoking scenes from Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso.

 

While considering scenes from the Inferno section, docent Perry Lacy said he noticed the images did not contain hellfire and brimstone but rather repeating themes of isolation as well as small horizons. Lacy explained that there was, supposedly, a real “Beatrice” in Dante’s life that had died, therefore, leaving him to pass through hell and purgatory before seeing her again in paradise.

 

Referring to the detail within Dali’s work, Paul Rancuret, who came from McKinney, said the artwork “just shows his true genius as an artist.”

 

Lacy agreed having previously pointed out the tresses of an angel whose hairs were individually defined.

 

On an upper level of the museum standing amid artwork in the Paradiso section of the exhibit, Katie Davis, a Dallas resident, said “these are just stunning.”

 

However, before arriving in the blissful Paradiso section, visitors must first meander past images of seemingly melting, stretching faces and characters with twisted body and facial contortions. The complexity of the situation suggests physical and spiritual misery with some hopeless apparitions even frozen in ice. Once in Purgatorio, hope appears to arrive with a ship of souls guided by an angel. Finally, once in Paradiso, lines begin to transform as the artwork incorporates smooth and elegant curves that radiate beauty and freedom.

 

AMA director Chris Hightower, who scouted out the traveling exhibit, said it was one of the most interesting he could find.

 

“Most people are familiar with Dante’s Inferno,” he said. “So, I thought it would be compelling for our community. It is a really interesting pairing with an artist that’s a surreal artist.”

 

Hightower explained that Dali had created about 3,000 woodblocks to complete the collection of prints, some of which contain 35 colors. He said people are captivated by the images and drawn to different things within them such as figures, detail and composition.

 

According to an AMA brochure, Dali was a painter, sculptor, writer, printmaker and set designer as well as a master engraver who produced outstanding work in etching, drypoint, woodcut and lithography to illustrate a variety of texts.

 

“I think people are drawn to [his work] by all the things Dali brings to the table,” Hightower said. “Artists may dabble in an area but may not be known for that area. I think this may fall into that category.”

 

AMA, 201 W. Main Street, is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.Tuesday through Saturday and 1-5 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets cost $8 for adults and $5 for students and seniors. Children age 12 and under are free. For more information, visit arlingtonmuseum.org or call 817-275-4600.

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Who's Behind The Blog
Karen Burgess Gavis
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