Time hasn't dulled edge of Dali's sliced eyeball

Mon Aug 25, 2008 5:49pm EDT
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By Louis Charbonneau

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Eight decades have passed since Spanish surrealist artist Salvador Dali and filmmaker Luis Bunuel portrayed a man slicing a woman's eyeball with a razor -- yet viewers still wince, groan and cover their eyes.

The sequence opens the 16-minute film "Un chien andalou" (An Andalusian Dog), which is one several of films running in an infinite loop at a new exhibition called "Dali: Painting and Film" at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMa) in New York City.

Based on the reactions of a crowd of viewers on Sunday, the scene has not lost its ability to make audiences shudder.

The exhibit, which can be see at MoMa through September 15, is a fascinating collection that brings together some of Dali's best-known works, usually scattered across museums and private collections around the world, under a single roof.

His nightmarish images still appear fresh in the 21st century -- melting clocks, swarms of ants crawling out of an eye socket, bicyclists with baguettes on their heads, a woman whose belly is transformed into a bleeding bouquet of roses.

What is unique about the exhibition is its emphasis on the central role that the new medium of the motion picture played in the aesthetic vision of a young Dali, born in 1904.

"Dali homed in on cinema's seemingly contradictory ability to combine the real and the surreal, the actual and the imaginary, the objective and the imaginative, the prosaic and the poetic," said MoMa drawings curator Jodi Hauptman.

"Whether still or moving, painted or shot, Dali's works are meant to wholly intoxicate their viewers, offering an experience provoked by an image but played out in the mind."   Continued...

<p>A woman walks past a photograph of Spanish artist Salvador Dali at the Tate Modern gallery in central London May 30, 2007. REUTERS/Toby Melville</p>