Dali uses myths to explore personal themes

Wed Dec 17, 2008 9:19am EST
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By Walker Simon

ST. PETERSBURG, Florida (Reuters Life!) - Surrealist Salvador Dali is known for his elongated figures and wilting clocks but an exhibition about myth in his art reveals a more personal side of the legendary Spanish painter.

The exhibit at the Salvador Dali Museum in Florida, which runs until January 11, includes paintings and prints of Greek and Roman deities that were inspired by his readings of Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, whom he met in 1938.

"A lot of people think of Dali as a surrealist, but there is a lot earlier and then later, in his classical style," said Sharon Sparkman, a guide at the museum, which has one of the most comprehensive collections of his work.

"Freud said Dali did a good job of self-analysis."

Although Dali studied Freud for more than four decades, he met the psychologist only once when he presented him with a painting of Narcissus, a hero in Greek mythology who falls deeply in love with himself.

"Dali was drawn to this myth for several reasons, the interweaving of truth and deception, desire and the power of illusion," said museum spokeswoman Kathy White.

"He knew Freud would be drawn to the trompe l'oeil illusionistic painting, which he was," she added.

At the core of the museum exhibit are 16 prints from the 1960s, part of Dali's classical period which began in the 1940s.   Continued...

<p>"Memory of the Child Woman," painted by Salvador Dali in 1932, is featured in an exhibit at the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida. REUTERS/Salvador Dali Museum/Handout</p>