Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Dali better the second time around?

I went to see Dali: The Late Work again today. I took my niece, age 14, for the 'cultural arts' segment of her home school curriculum. She had never heard of Salvador Dali until a ten-year old she knows mentioned that he'd been to see the exhibit at the High Museum of Art Atlanta. He liked it OK, said it was pretty cool. I don't think my niece knew what to expect.

I had the privilege of seeing the exhibit earlier, prior to the 'official' opening. The group I was with were treated to a wonderful guided tour by Guest Curator Elliott King, a literal fount of knowledge regarding Dali's work, in particular his late works. He was joined by Irene Halsman, the daughter of Dali photographer and friend, Phillipe Halsman. After following King around, hearing his comments and insights, being spoiled, I wasn't sure how I'd "see" the art today.

Thinking about it, today should count as my third time around! After finishing the tour with King and friends, I grabbed the headsets and walked around again. I listened to the adult and the children's mustache narrated commentary... What can I say? I wanted to know everything and hear everything!

So, today on my 3rd time around how did it go? It was different, but still wonderful. I found myself spending more time looking at Dali's technique and questioning why he chose certain subject matter. As my niece listened to the commentary via the headset, I focused on some of the details I'd missed the first two times around. I was also able to share many of the tidbits that King had discussed, making her think I was some sort of Dali expert. Uh huh.

It was a new experience. In particular I loved introducing my niece to Salvador Dali. The High has put together a phenomenal collection of his works which chronicles his personality and talent with perfection. I watched her looking at the details, scrunching her nose with a few "ewwws" at some of the strangeness, chuckling at times, tilting her head trying to figure out the meaning of some part of a painting... and felt like I was discovering Dali anew.

I'm smiling as I type thinking about how enjoyable the day was, how magnificent Dali is and was. I've been to many shows at the High over the years and always had a great experience and appreciated their attention to detail and the quality of art they share with the public. I'm not sure if it's because I have been a Dali fan since my teens, whether it's the quality of the exhibit they've put together, or a combination of both, but to me the Dali exhibit is absolutely the best of the best by the High.

Will I go back again? You betcha. I think I may wait for a while and let today's visit soak in a bit, but I'll definitely be going back before they close the exhibit in January. By the time the pieces of the exhibit are packed up and returned to their homes, I may be able to give Elliott King a bit of competition!

Just in case you're wondering what my niece thought of it, she loved Dali's work. She thought he was strange and she didn't know who Alice Cooper or Andy Warhol were, but she was impressed. We're already planning our next trip to the High. We saw the Dali exhibit but didn't have time to wander through the rest of the museum which is worth a day all on its own!

Even if you're not sure whether you like Salvador Dali you must, must, go to see Dali: The Late Work. I promise, there's something for everyone and it's an experience bigger than art, just like Dali! - jmd

www.high.org for more information
1280 Peachtree Street N.E.

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