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Salvador Dalí’s Stairway to Heaven

Jun 08, 2018 — Jan 18, 2019

Curated by David S. Rubin

The Hilliard Museum is excited to serve as the inaugural venue for the exhibition Salvador Dalí’s Stairway to Heaven, showcasing over 140 works by the prolific artist. This exhibition uniquely presents two of Dalí’s projects from the collection of the Park West Museum: illustrations for Les Chants de Maldoror and The Divine Comedy, as an analog for the progression of his personal life and views as an artist. Curated by David S. Rubin, the psychological depth of this exhibition humanizes the legendary artist.

Early in his life Dalí characterized himself as an amoral-nihilist, who favored free association and the most primal human instincts. This part of his life is reflected in his illustrations he created for a 1934 edition of Les Chants de Maldoror, a poetic text describing violence, cannibalism and debauchery, which was a favorite of the Surrealists.

Later in Dalí’s life he was invited to illustrate an edition of Dante’s The Divine Comedy, commissioned by the Italian government to commemorate the 700th anniversary of the author’s birth. The selection of Dalí was controversial because he was not Italian and his reputation as a nihilist put him at odds with The Divine Comedy’s redemptive message. Ultimately, Dalí was not chosen for the project, but he continued his work nonetheless. His illustrations for The Divine Comedy later found a home in a 1960 edition. This was particularly fitting because, by this time in his life, his work was influenced by an earnest interest in spirituality, Christianity, and mysticism.

Salvador Dalí’s Stairway to Heaven offers a fresh perspective on one of the titans of art history. The exhibition is organized by Carole Sorell, Incorporated and presented with generous support from the Park West Foundation. A fully illustrated catalog with an essay by David S. Rubin accompanies the exhibition, as well as “Dalí–Illustrator,” a 407-page hardcover book by Eduard Fornés.

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