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What Is Dali Universe?

M.C. Huguelet
Updated: May 23, 2024

Dali Universe is an exhibition of artworks by Spanish surrealist Salvador Dali. It was housed in a London gallery for 10 years before being relocated to Venice in 2011. Rather than focusing on the artist’s paintings, which many viewers are familiar with, Dali Universe primarily showcases lesser-known items such as glass work, sculptures, and drawings. This exhibition is one of several around the world dedicated solely to the work of Dali.

As its name suggests, Dali Universe is an exhibition devoted solely to the work of Salvador Dali. Born in Spain in 1904, Dali established himself as a prominent figure in the surrealist art world of Europe and the US in the 1920s and 1930s. His work is highly recognizable for its often unsettling dreamlike imagery, which frequently features melting clocks, animals with distorted bodies, and bizarre desert landscapes.

From the years 2000 to 2010, Dali Universe was housed in the County Hall building, located on London’s South Bank. In 2011, the exhibition was moved to Venice. As of late 2011, it is housed in the Museo Santa Apollonia, which is located just a short walk from St. Mark’s Square, one of Venice’s most visited sites. Showcasing around 100 of Dali’s pieces, the Venice exhibition is considerably smaller than its London predecessor, which featured approximately 500 works by the artist. It is usually open to the public six days per week.

Many of the most casual art enthusiasts are familiar with one or more of Dali’s visually distinctive paintings. Dali Universe does not emphasize the artist’s paintings, however, instead opting to focus on items like blown glass, drawings, and sculptures. As the exhibition brings together many objects that are not as well known as Dali’s paintings, it may be interesting to those who have already had an opportunity to view some of his more famous works, as well as to those with a particular interest in surrealist sculpture or glass work.

In addition to Dali Universe, there are four other permanent collections which are dedicated solely to Dali’s art. Two of these, the Salvador Dali Museum and the Salvador Dali Gallery, are located in St. Petersburg, Florida, and Pacific Palisades, California, respectively. The Teatre-Museu Dali, located near Dali’s birthplace in Figueres, Spain, was designed by the artist himself prior to his 1989 death. Finally, the Espace Dali is located in Montmartre, the area of Paris, France, in which Dali lived and worked at one time.

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M.C. Huguelet
By M.C. Huguelet
Cate Huguelet, a Chicago-based freelance writer with a passion for storytelling, crafts engaging content for a wide range of publications, including WiseTour. With degrees in Writing and English, she brings a unique perspective and a commitment to clean, precise copy that resonates with readers. Her ability to understand and connect with audiences makes her a valuable asset to any content creation team.
Discussion Comments
By hamje32 — On Dec 12, 2011

@NathanG - I’ve seen a few images from the Dali Exhibits online – that’s as close as I’ll ever get to the real thing. But to answer your question, I don’t see that his sculptures are any less surreal than his other works.

They are vintage Dali, conceptually weird and the kind of pieces that really make you think. One metal sculpture is that of a melting clock. What’s that supposed to mean? Is that a commentary on the nature of time? You tell me.

It’s fascinating stuff either way. I like it better than most abstract art, which seems to be a little too open ended in my opinion.

By NathanG — On Dec 12, 2011

@SkyWhisperer - I’ve never seen that painting in person but I do agree with you it’s quite puzzling.

Let’s remind ourselves that Dali was, in the final analysis, a surrealist. By definition this is someone who deals in fanciful worlds and bizarre juxtapositions of different ideas and metaphors.

What I am most curious about is what his glass sculptures must have looked like. I understand how you can bring surrealism to art, but how do you bring it to sculptures? You have less freedom with the material that you are working with. Would these sculptures be more or less surreal?

By SkyWhisperer — On Dec 11, 2011

I had a chance to visit the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida one year. It’s quite an amazing array of his artwork and gives you a glimpse into the painter’s mind.

At time you think he’s a genius and at other times you think he's perhaps a little bit demented. He was certainly very conceptual and didn’t hesitate to go out on a limb so to speak in some of his visual ideas.

One of the most famous in my opinion is the “Corpus Hypercubus.” In this painting Jesus is shown crucified on a cross made out of cubes – I guess these would be hyper cubes. They appear to be projecting out from space and are totally levitated.

I’ve asked myself many times what he was trying to say by this painting and still haven’t figured it out. Clearly he crossed the boundaries of physics and religion by using such imagery, and so clearly he must have understood science quite well.

M.C. Huguelet
M.C. Huguelet
Cate Huguelet, a Chicago-based freelance writer with a passion for storytelling, crafts engaging content for a wide...
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