Tate Modern  Level 4
1 June – 9 September 2007

Tate Modern presents a ground breaking exhibition, Dalí & Film, the first exhibition ever to focus on the close relationship between the paintings and films of Salvador Dalí (1904–1989). Opening in June 2007, Dali & Film will be an unprecedented exploration of the central role of cinema in Dalí’s art. Widely regarded as one of the most important artists of the twentieth century, Dali’s surrealist paintings are undoubtedly among the most recognisable works of art made in the last hundred years. His collaborations with Luis Buñuel, Alfred Hitchcock, and Walt Disney also created some of the most memorable and influential scenes in avant-garde cinema.

Dalí & Film will be arranged chronologically and will bring together more than one hundred works from collections around the world, including over sixty paintings. These will be seen alongside Dalí’s major film projects such as Un Chien andalou, L’Âge d’or (1929–30), Spellbound (1945) and Destino (1946), as well as associated photographs, drawings and manuscripts.

The two films that he co-wrote with Luis Buñuel in 1929–30, Un Chien andalou and L’Âge d’or, are marked by Dalí’s vivid imagination and his engagement with the Freudian theories that energised Surrealism, especially the study of dreams and the unconscious. The films include haunting images such as the slicing of an eyeball with a razor and a hand infected with ants, and as this exhibition will reveal, images already explored in major paintings of that moment, such as Apparatus and Hand (1927) and Inaugural Goose Flesh (1928). It will also be possible to see how in subsequent paintings Dalí employed a new cinematic atmosphere, for example in Morning Ossification of the Cypress (1934). At times Dalí promoted film over painting, though he also declared ‘the best cinema is the kind that can be perceived with your eyes closed.’ 

Dalí imagined films throughout his life, producing poetic texts and sketches, scenarios and paintings. His dream-like vision proved ideal for Hollywood in the 1940s and on the cinema screen total immersion in Dalí’s imagination became possible for a mass audience. Dali seized the opportunity to work with Hitchcock on Spellbound and with Walt Disney’s studio on Destino, completed 2003. As this exhibition will show, the famous dream sequence for Hitchcock’s thriller brought to a grand scale the imagery of contemporary paintings such as Melancholy, Atomic, Uranic Idyll, 1945. Destino will also be shown, along with related drawings by Dalí for the first time in the UK.

Dalí came from the first generation of artists for whom film was a formative influence and a creative outlet. In the era of silent movies distributed worldwide, he grew up admiring the inventiveness of the slap-stick Hollywood comedians, such as Harry Langdon and Buster Keaton. He saw this mass entertainment as anti-artistic in its disregard for the pretensions of high culture and this became a model for his own work. What distinguished Dalí was his cross-fertilisation of ideas across his enormously varied output, with images explored and transposed across all media.

Dalí & Film is organised in collaboration with the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation in Figueres and with the support of the Spanish Tourist Office. It brings together a team of scholars who will contribute to the comprehensive catalogue: Dawn Ades (curator, Salvador Dalí: Centenary Exhibition), Montse Aguer (Director, Centre d’Estudis Dalinians, Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation), Félix Fanès (curator, Dalí: Cultura de Masas) and Tate curator Matthew Gale (author of Dada and Surrealism). The exhibition will tour to Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Salvador Dalí Museum, St Petersburg, Florida in 2007 and 2008.