Dali: A Celebration of Kitsch

Salvador Dali, Profile of Time, bronze sculpture, undated
Salvador Dali, Profile of Time, bronze sculpture, undated

A successful publicity campaign ensured that thousands of Israelis would flock to Haifa’s International Convention Center during the holidays to view 300 artworks by Salvador Dali, he of the crazy moustache, eccentric personality and love of melting clocks.

The works valued at 60 million dollars came almost exclusively from the collection of Enrique Sabater, secretary and assistant to Dali for 13 years. Nearly everything is for sale – paintings, lithographs, etchings and sculpture – the most expensive piece, a painting entitled The Servants of the Disciples at Emmaus (1960), valued at 2.4 million.

Dali was without doubt a talented artist, but the sketchy style of most paintings in this collection is quite different from the glossy, photographic quality that characterize his best known works. In general, this is a presentation heavily weighed down by kitsch, especially as regards the sculptures which include – yes- plenty of small and large melting clocks.  And then there are examples from Aliyah, the Rebirth of Israel, a suite of lithographs from paintings commissioned in 1967 to mark the 20th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel. Why did Dali undertake this assignment? Previously he had never shown any love or interest in the Jewish people, in fact, artists of the Surrealist movement condemned him in the 1940s for his obsessive interest in what he termed the “Hitler Phenomenon.”

Perhaps the most fascinating part of this show, aside from its extraordinary reception, is Sabater’s collection of photos of Dali and Gala, his wife and muse, bringing into focus the life and career of a flamboyant showman.

Till April 6th 2013
International Convention Center, Haifa