That Dali dude was a ditz.
He was a brilliant ditz, which might explain why he was a boastful ditz.
As the Deliciously Daffy Ditz once proclaimed: "Every morning upon awakening, I experience a supreme pleasure, that of being Salvador Dali."
With that, welcome to Ditz Central.
"There are unbelievable works of art in this show that haven't seen the light of day in 20 years out there," says Richard Perry, president of Centaur Art Galleries in Fashion Show mall, where more than 300 Dali drawings, paintings, etchings, sculptures and illustrations line the walls for buying or browsing, through late October.
"We have exhibits that even some major museums can't do because of the time it takes to put them together. The show we're currently doing for Salvador Dali took us three years to accumulate. A few came from private collections, a few from major portfolios, we bought a few at auction houses, a few came from antiquarian book dealers."
Among the Dali delights: A series of prints the waxy-mustachioed eccentric made from original watercolors to illustrate Dante's "Divine Comedy"; a 1973 collection commissioned to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Israel's creation with interpretations of the 12 tribes of Israel; and 1969 etchings depicting "Alice in Wonderland" to commemorate the centennial of the beloved book's original publication.
"I've heard people say, 'I came to the mall to buy some socks and I'm walking out with a Salvador Dali,' " says art consultant Diane Perry about pieces whose sale prices stretch from $500 to $15,000, most falling into the $2,000 to $6,000 range. "Art is very personal and sometimes the art just reaches out and says, 'That's it!' People love what they see in Dali's work."
And it's work reflective of the legendary rascal's sublime, surreal and socially daring sensibilities. (This is, after all, a man who, with his wife, Gala, attended a Chicago masquerade party garbed as the Lindbergh baby and the kidnapper, for which he later issued a mea culpa -- and was then put on "trial" in Paris by other surrealists for apologizing for a surrealist act.)
A walk-through reveals a presentation that is both exhibit and tribute. Beyond the Dante, Israel and "Alice" highlights, the eclectic array spotlights a dual-profile portrait of Laurence Olivier in "Richard III," sketches of Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Thomas Edison, Ben Franklin and Cervantes, and bronze sculptures such as "Nude Ascending The Staircase." The odder abstractions include "Cyclopean Makeup," envisioning a future in which a woman applies makeup that automatically forms on the face into whatever style its wearer desires, the piece prominently featuring massive lips that, comparatively, make Angelina Jolie's famously fleshy flappers look like squiggles.
But there are also salutes to the idiosyncratic artist, such as a photo of him, eyes bulging, nuzzling an ocelot, and a 1936 Time magazine cover bearing his flamboyant image.
"We hope people get a little more educated about Salvador Dali," Richard Perry says. "He's one of the most important artists of the 20th century and the last of the 20th-century artists to pass away, less than 20 years ago, so his art is still a little bit more available out there in the market than Picasso, who passed away nearly 35 years ago."
Yet the master's oeuvre isn't as extensive as is commonly accepted. "If you took out all the things that were made in Dali's name and not made by Dali himself, his body of work is really smaller than people realize," says art consultant Tim Smith. "Dali was not a very wise businessman, he was a true artist and that's where his mind was. His publishers would often take objects out of paintings and have them made into objects of art, sculptures and lithographs, and Dali did not even know they were being made. He would go into art galleries and see things under his name he had never even seen."
The Dali display emphasizes the dreamscape aspects of the artist who collaborated with Alfred Hitchcock on the dream sequence of 1945's classic, "Spellbound." Elaborating on his inspirations, Smith explains that on projects such as the "Alice in Wonderland" interpretations, he sought the virtues of the subconscious to illustrate the chapters.
"When he would do a work of art based on a famous piece of literature, he would lay in bed after reading the chapter he wanted to illustrate with a spoon balanced across his nose, lips and chin, and drift into sleep," Smith says. "His head would nod, the spoon would fall to the side of his face and he would leap out of bed to his sketch pad and record his dreams, and do a work of art based on that dream. He was always trying to find ways to tap the subconscious to share it with the world."
Spoons on the schnoz inspiring art for the ages?
Direct from the dreams of a divine ditz come Salvador Dali's greatest hits.
Contact reporter Steve Bornfeld at email@example.com or 702-383-0256.