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Dali Today: A Cultural Event

-- Exploring the Celebrated and Controversial Artist’s Largely Overlooked Work in Ballet
and Opera;
Exhibition at Queens College’s Godwin-Ternbach Museum
on View April 12 – June 12, 2010 --

Exhibition: Dalí Dance and Beyond curated by Frédérique Joseph-Lowery Featuring Never-Before-Displayed Images
The Godwin-Ternbach Museum at Queens College
April 15: Opening reception (6:30-8:30 pm) and
lecture (7:30 pm)
Symposium: Dalí Today
April 22 - Queens College, Benjamin Rosenthal Library, Room 230 (10 am-5 pm)
April 23 - King Juan Carlos I Center, 53 Wash. Sq. So, NYC (10 am- 5 pm)
Contemporary Dance Performance: Eorasonnée
April 22 - Goldstein Theatre, Kupferberg Center for the Arts, QC (7:30 pm)

FLUSHING, NY, March 25, 2010 -- Although many important exhibitions and conferences have been held since the 2004 centenary of Salvador Dalí’s birth, scholars and curators have largely ignored the more than two decades during which the famed surrealist worked with choreographers. This event—organized by Dr. Frédérique Joseph-Lowery and Dr. Amy H. Winter, Godwin-Ternbach Museum—seeks to fill that gap and explore the artist’s relevance today. All events are free of charge except for the performance of Eorasonnée (tickets available at

The exhibition Dalí Dance and Beyond
Documents his collaboration, between 1939 and 1962, with three luminaries in the history of modern dance: Léonide Massine and George Balanchine of the Ballet Russe, and Maurice Béjart. The exhibition will be followed by the publication of both a fully illustrated catalogue and the proceedings of the symposium.

The exhibition includes more than 45 never-before-published images from Italy, Belgium, and the United States, postcards, books, correspondence, and other printed materials. They reveal not only an insufficiently documented period of Dalí’s artistic production, but also shed new light on how Dalí's ideas—and Surrealism—evolved during this period.

Dalí using model as desk, MCNY

Dalí Dance and Beyond also helps correct the simplistic perception that Dalí drew inspiration from his Mediterranean identity alone. It elucidates the Germanic influences that informed the artist’s works: his fondness for Wagnerian opera and his fascination with Ludwig II, the castle-building “Mad King” of Bavaria.

The main purpose of the event is “to revise the disdain and lack of attention to Dalí’s work from that period,” says Amy H. Winter, director of the Godwin-Ternbach Museum. The artist’s penchant for self-promotion and his problematic political attitudes ultimately led to his expulsion from the Surrealist movement in 1939, after which he declared his decision to “become classic.” “This, and his later commercial work, have led to an undervaluation of his oeuvre,” says Frédérique Joseph-Lowery, the exhibition’s curator.

“Recently there has been a move to rehabilitate Dalí for his contribution to ‘low’ culture—his later work in fashion, jewelry, advertising, etc., and his role as a forerunner of the pop-art movement,” says Joseph-Lowery. “We take a different approach. It is important to recognize his contribution to ‘high’ culture.” In his work on modern dance, Dalí created not only props, décor, and costumes, as is customary for visual artists, but also wrote the librettos, chose the music, and collaborated in the choreography of dancers’ movements.

The displayed photos and the cases with other materials relate to two main themes:

The ballets:
Bacchanale (collaboration with George Balanchine)

Mad Tristan (collaboration with Léonide Massine)
Gala (Collaboration with Maurice Béjart)

And three of Dalí’s architectural projects in Catalonia, Spain, strongly influenced by Ludwig II of Bavaria’s paranoia:






● His home on the bay of the small fishing village of Port Lligat
● The Gala-Salvador Dalí Theatre-Museum in Figueres
● Gala’s Castle in Pubol

Exterior of Dali Theater-Museum

In order to better comprehend their complex historical context, the exhibition contents are presented in a double dialogue: first, in relation to objects selected from the Godwin-Ternbach Museum—a collection composed entirely of gifts from alumni and friends, making it a “found collection” where chance has played a major role and thus acknowledges Dalí’s Surrealism; and second, in relation to contemporary works by Amy Ernst, Tamara Kostianovsky, Stephen Robeson Miller, William L. Phipps, and Yo Yo Xiao.

The Symposium – Dalí Today
Dalí’s relevance will be debated among speakers who will address such issues as the so-called “tackiness” of his works, the status of women in his paintings, the role of photography in his oeuvre with choreographers, his conceptual importance (as compared to Marcel Duchamp), and his strong impact on contemporary French and Catalan artists.

The symposium will be launched on April 15, following the opening reception, with a talk at the museum at 7:30 pm by Jean-Michel Rabaté, Professor of English and Comparative Literature, University of Pennsylvania, entitled “Paranoia and Infra-thin, Complementary Strategies between Duchamp and Dalí.”

The symposium continues at the college’s Benjamin Rosenthal Library, Room 230, on April 22, 2010, (10 am–5 pm), with these speakers:

Isabelle Roussel-Gillet, Associate Professor, Lille University (France), and co-author (with Frédérique Joseph-Lowery) of Dalí/Béjart: danser “Gala,” will discuss the role of photography in dance and Dalí’s archives related to his ballets. Title: “Dali, pas de danse.”

Claire Nouvet, Associate Professor, Emory University, author of Enfances Narcisse (Galilée, 2009), questions if we should despise Dalí for his “tackiness” and bad taste. Title: “Dalí’s Aftertaste.”

Charles Stuckey, independent scholar, currently preparing a revised catalogue raisonné of the paintings of surrealist Yves Tanguy, will present “The Woman with Her Pants Off: Gala-Dalí and Red Rag.”

Amy Winter, Director and Curator, Godwin-Ternbach Museum, will examine Dalí’s complex games in the representation of illusion and reality and their foundations in his personal, hermetic symbolism. Title: “Dalí’s Puzzling Images.

The symposium’s second day, sponsored by The Catalan Center at NYU, an affiliate of the Institut Ramon Llull, moves to the King Juan Carlos I Center, NYU, on April 23, 2010 (10 am – 5 pm), with the following speakers:

Mary Ann Caws,
Distinguished Professor of English, French and Comparative Literature at the Graduate School of the City University of New York. Title: “Glancing at Dalí’s Hidden Faces,” a discussion of Dalí’s only novel.

Bradley Epps,
Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures and Chair of Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality, Harvard University. Title: “Anaclitic Narcissism: Aesthetic Self-Fashioning and Economic Dependence in Dalí.”

William Jeffett
, Curator of Special Exhibitions, the Dalí Museum, St. Petersburg, Florida, will give a presentation on contemporary artists engaged with Dalí’s work. Title: “Dalí’s Legacy and Mabel Palacín’s Una noche sin fin.”

Catherine Millet,
Director of ArtPress and author of Dalí and Me, will discuss how, despite his rejection as a taboo figure by the European intelligentsia, Dalí has exerted an underground influence on some of the best artists of their generation. Title: “Dalí Underground.” Millet will hold a book signing at 6 pm, following the symposium.

A Contemporary Choreography: Eorasonnée

Goldstein Theatre, Kupferberg Center for the Arts, Queens College, April 22, 2010 (7:30 pm)

In the spirit of the performative aspect of Dalí’s work, Virginie Souquet, Dalí interpreter and choreographer, will present a piece she created in 2007 in dialogue with Frédérique Joseph-Lowery and Isabelle Roussel-Gillet, authors of Dalí/Béjart: danser “Gala,” upon which the exhibition Dalí Dance and Beyond is based. Her solo, sponsored by and presented in association with the Kupferberg Center for the Visual and Performing Arts, will be documented with videos of rehearsals and performances, and complemented by an exhibition of photographs by contemporary New York artist William L. Phipps.

This solo choreography reflects the method of surrealist collage. Souquet follows Dalí’s lead, dancing at the border of madness without restraint, open to the creative dynamic of his eccentric and deeply profound art. Terracotta and wood sculpture created by Souquet serve on stage as décor and props. Animated collages created in collaboration with Phipps are projected onto the stage.

For information about the exhibition and symposium at the Godwin-Ternbach Museum, call 718-997-4747 or go to For information about the symposium and book signing at the King Juan Carlos I Center, NYU, 53 Washington Square South, between Thompson & Sullivan Street, NYC, call 212-998-8255.

Travel Information

By car, the Godwin-Ternbach Museum is 40 minutes from midtown Manhattan. Directions are at 

The Godwin-Ternbach Museum at Queens College is the only comprehensive collection of art and artifacts in the borough of Queens, housing over 3,700 objects that date from ancient to modern times. The mission of the GTM has grown over time from serving as a teaching museum for the benefit of art and art history students to embracing all disciplines and an increasingly diverse and engaged community. All exhibitions are free, as are their related lectures, symposia, gallery talks, workshops, films, concerts, and tours.






















































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