Dalí: Poetics of the Small, 1929–1936
Nearly two dozen Surrealist masterpieces comprise the first focused exploration of the small-scale paintings by Salvador Dalí.
Research undertaken upon the Meadows’ 2014 acquisition of Salvador Dalí’s painting The Fish Man (L’homme poisson, 1930) opened doors to areas within Dalí’s 1930s oeuvre worthy of further study; foremost among them, Dalí’s propensity for painting on a small scale. Dalí: Poetics of the Small, 1929-1936 is the first exhibition on the artist to focus solely on his small-format works. While examples of small-format paintings are present throughout Dalí’s career, the eight years under examination –1929 to 1936, arguably the apex of Dalí’s artistic career– witnessed sustained attention to this format; nearly half of the approximately 200 known paintings completed by the artist during this time measure 13 inches or smaller.
This exhibition, which brings together a representative selection of small-format paintings from this period, considers the potential sources of inspiration for these minute masterpieces. Of particular interest is Dalí’s early, and lasting, admiration for the work of Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer (1632–1675). Photography, as well as photomontage and collage, are also considered as influences.
The project also includes a technical study of a selection of these paintings by Claire Barry, director of conservation at the Kimbell Art Museum, which continues the work she first performed on The Fish Man three years ago. This research aims to provide a better understanding of Dalí’s artistic technique and working process during the 1930s, which is considered in correlation to the artist’s small-format paintings.