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December 23rd, 2004
Dalí

Although he once denounced film as an inferior form of expression, few artists have experimented more with the medium than Salvador Dalí. Throughout his career, Dalí collaborated with Luis Buñuel, the Marx Brothers, Alfred Hitchcock, and Walt Disney to create fantastic visions that played out on the big screen. During the first retrospective exhibition of the artist's work since his death (on view February 16 to May 15), for which the Philadelphia Museum of Art is the only United States venue, the Museum’s video gallery (179) will be the location of Dalí and the Cinema featuring two of Dalí’s intriguing films: Un Chien Andalou and Destino.

In 1929 Luis Buñuel visited Dalí at his home in Figueres, Spain, to recount a dream he had of a slender cloud cutting the moon in half, "like a razor blade slicing through an eye." Dalí shared with Buñuel his own dream about a hand covered in ants, and the two set about drafting a film script based on their visions. The script would go on to become Un Chien Andalou (1929, DVD, 17 minutes), widely considered one of the finest pieces of Surrealist cinema.

In his 1983 autobiography, Buñuel recalled that the two established one important rule for their collaboration: that no idea or image with any rational explanation would be included in the work. Themes of love, sex, death, and decay are present but the film has no recognizable structure to connect them. This disconnect leaves viewers to examine their own reactions to the piece, demonstrating that this film should be experienced rather than analyzed.

Though it premiered in June 2003 at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival, the origins of Destino date to 1945, when Dalí met Walt Disney at a dinner party hosted by Jack Warner, then head of Warner Bros., and the idea for a collaborative project was hatched.

Destino was initiated when Disney, who owned the rights to the Mexican love ballad of the same name, commissioned Dalí to create a story treatment based on the song. Though the film was abandoned due to financial difficulties arising from World War II, the project was revived in May 2001 at Disney's Paris-based animation studio. Using Dalí's original storyboards, sketches, and paintings as a blueprint, a team of 25 animators worked to bring the artist's vision to fruition.

Set to the ballad - written by Armando Dominguez and sung by Dora Luz - Destino is a love story as only Dalí could envision, complete with melting clocks, tuxedo-clad eyeballs, ballerinas, ants that turn into bicycles, and a surprising homage to baseball, which signals Dalí's fascination with American pop culture.

About Salvador Dalí
Philadelphia is the only U.S. venue for Salvador Dalí, the most comprehensive retrospective ever mounted of the artist’s career as a painter, draftsman, and sculptor. The exhibition of more than 200 works places Dalí's famous surrealist canvases of the 1920s and 1930s in context with his early and later work and reassesses his position in modern art. The exhibition is on view at the Philadelphia Museum of Art from February 16 through May 15, 2005.

In Philadelphia, Salvador Dalí has been made possible by ADVANTA. Additional funding has been provided by an endowment from The Annenberg Foundation for major exhibitions at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities, by grants from The Pew Charitable Trusts and the National Endowment for the Arts, and by a generous contribution from Gisela and Dennis Alter. Promotional support provided by NBC 10 WCAU, Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation, Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau, and Amtrak. The print media sponsor is The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philly.com.

The exhibition has been organized by Palazzo Grassi, Venice, with the Gala - Salvador Dalí Foundation, Figueres, Spain, in collaboration with the Philadelphia Museum of Art and with the support of the Salvador Dalí Museum of Saint Petersburg, Florida, in celebration of the centennial of Dalí's birth.

For further information about the Dalí centennial year exhibitions, celebrations, including a calendar of international events, commissioned by the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation, visit www.dali2004.org.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is Philadelphia's art museum. We are a landmark building. A world-renowned collection. A place that welcomes everyone. We bring the arts to life, inspiring visitors—through scholarly study and creative play—to discover the spirit of imagination that lies in everyone. We connect people with the arts in rich and varied ways, making the experience of the Museum surprising, lively, and always memorable. We are committed to inviting visitors to see the world—and themselves—anew through the beauty and expressive power of the arts.

For additional information, contact the Communications Department of the Philadelphia Museum of Art phone at 215-684-7860, by fax at 215-235-0050, or by e-mail at pressroom@philamuseum.org. The Philadelphia Museum of Art is located on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway at 26th Street. For general information, call (215) 763-8100.

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