London, autumn 1938 – Salvador Dalí meets Sigmund Freud, who had escaped from Vienna. The first and only meeting between the artist and his idol was arranged by Stefan Zweig and Edward James. The Belvedere dedicates a comprehensive exhibition to this momentous association and shows the influence of the psychoanalyst on Dalí's work.
Curated by Jaime Brihuega.
That motifs central to Surrealism are the subconscious and the realm of dreams already demonstrates that artists of this stylistic inclination have a fascination with psychoanalysis. The depth to which the greatest representative of this movement, Salvador Dalí, specifically dealt with the theories of Sigmund Freud – and how suddenly many of those theories appeared in his work – will be shown beginning in October 2020 in a comprehensive exhibition at the Orangery of the Lower Belvedere. This show is comprised of 150 paintings, sculptures, photographs, films, books, magazines, letters, and other documents, many of which will be on loan from notable cultural institutions. The exhibition documents the powerful attraction that Freud held for the Surrealists – thereby illuminating two of the most significant movements of the twentieth century.
Salvador Dalí had access to translations of Sigmund Freud’s writings starting in the early 1920s and studied them extensively. Influenced by this literature, he began to explore the poetics of Surrealism in 1926 and developed the pictorial language that gave his work the unique status it maintains to this day. He was only able to meet the Viennese psychoanalyst on a single occasion in London. The exhibition describes this and other seminal encounters the artist had, such as at the Residencia de Estudiantes in Madrid where he met the poet Federico García Lorca, or yet another meeting he had with the filmmaker Luis Buñuel. These, as well as other encounters such as with histologist and Nobel laureate Santiago Ramón y Cajal and his drawings of nerve issue, were largely responsible for shaping Salvador Dalí’s surrealistic work. His family background also had a great influence on his oeuvre, which forms yet another focus of the show – via psychoanalysis the artist intensively dealt with his complex youth, processing it time and again in his paintings.