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Two art curators had a mystery on their hands. Was an unusual Dalí painting actually his? – CNN



Caitlin Haskell and Jennifer Cohen were stumped. The curators, both working on the Art Institute of Chicago’s first show dedicated to Salvador Dalí, were researching his painting “Visions of Eternity,” which was dated to 1936 and had been held in the museum since the late 1980s. A vertical composition, “Visions of Eternity” depicts an enigmatic, blue-ombre landscape with a shadowy, humanoid figure perched on top of a single arch to the viewer’s left and a pair of beans in the foreground.

But red flags were mounting; the painting seemed out of place in Dali’s larger body of work in that period, Haskell and Cohen explained during a joint call.

“We really couldn’t find anything like it across his work,” Cohen said.


For one, “Visions of Eternity” is exceptionally large — nearly 7 feet tall — but was created at a time when the famed surrealist artist was primarily painting delicate oil figures, animals and objects on small canvases and wood panels, the pair explained. His small-scale works brim with symbolism and double meanings, beckoning viewers to come in close; “Visions of Eternity,” meanwhile, is a sparsely populated scene, requiring observers to take a few steps back.

Dalí was known for recurring visual motifs — think flaming giraffes, deflated pianos, and, of course, melting clocks — but this painting didn’t seem to have any visual companions, said Cohen.

The nearly 7-foot-tall "Visions of Eternity" seemed to be an outlier among Salvador Dalí's work from the 1930s.

The nearly 7-foot-tall “Visions of Eternity” seemed to be an outlier among Salvador Dalí’s work from the 1930s. Credit: Salvador Dalí/Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí/Artists Rights Society

“We were like, ‘Is this a Dalí?’ We were really panicking,” she said. They knew the painting had been previously owned by the late Joseph R. Shapiro, a trustee at the museum and founding president of the nearby Museum of Contemporary Art, but before that, its provenance was unknown. Solving the mystery — and confirming the painting’s authenticity — was critical to placing it in the show.

The unusual painting was one of 25 Dalí artworks extensively analyzed in preparation for “Salvador Dalí: The Image Disappears,” which opened February 18 at the Art Institute. The show approaches Dalí’s practice through contrasting themes of visibility and disappearance: As the prolific Spanish artist became a leading figure in the surrealist movement during the 1930s, he repeated themes of vanishing, from wispy figures and optical illusions (like the actor Mae West’s face doubling as an apartment interior) to hidden portraits masked by paint.

“We noticed all of these different approaches to disappearance that were everything from material to metaphorical in his work,” Cohen explained of the exhibition’s theme.

Haskell and Cohen worked in tandem with the museum’s paintings conservators Allison Langley and Katrina Rush, who undertook technical analysis of the artworks, revealing insights into some of Dalí’s works that greatly shift their meaning.

The surface of "A Chemist Lifting with Extreme Precaution the Cuticle of a Grand Piano" has a shadowy area under the piano where the paint is unusually smooth — the rest of the painting is ridged with craquelure.

The surface of “A Chemist Lifting with Extreme Precaution the Cuticle of a Grand Piano” has a shadowy area under the piano where the paint is unusually smooth — the rest of the painting is ridged with craquelure. Credit: Salvador Dalí/Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí/Artists Rights Society

Using infrared imaging, conservators revealed a figure of King Ludwig II of Bavaria (outlined in blue).

Using infrared imaging, conservators revealed a figure of King Ludwig II of Bavaria (outlined in blue). Credit: Art Institute of Chicago of Salvador Dalí

X-Ray and infrared imaging, for example, uncovered a hidden graphite portrait of King Ludwig II of Bavaria beneath the surface of the 1936 artwork “A Chemist Lifting with Extreme Precaution the Cuticle of a Grand Piano.” (Ludwig was a patron of the composer Richard Wagner, who appears in the painting.)

Haskell and Cohen believe Dalí's portrait of the monarch was intentionally hidden like an easter egg, rather than an early draft that was painted over.

Haskell and Cohen believe Dalí’s portrait of the monarch was intentionally hidden like an easter egg, rather than an early draft that was painted over. Credit: Art Institute of Chicago of Salvador Dalí

In another instance, Langley and Rush analyzed the pigment of a nearly invisible dark blue dog in the bottom right corner of the 1937 painting “Inventions of the Monsters,” unsure if it had darkened with time. This confirmed the color was unchanged and intentional. Cohen believes the dog is a covert reference to the poet Federico Garcia Lorca, Dalí’s close friend (who thought the artist’s 1929 short film “An Andalusian Dog” was about him) who had recently been executed in the Spanish Civil War.

A Dalíesque mystery

The puzzle surrounding “Visions of Eternity,” however, could not be solved only in the lab. As the artwork contained no hidden drawings or secret indicators that it was a Dalí, Cohen and Haskell began trying to pinpoint the work within his larger oeuvre. That meant casting a wide net on everything he worked on within the 1930s and ’40s.

Cohen eventually found a small but powerful clue when she came across a Dalí illustration commissioned by Vogue magazine in 1939. There, tiny as could be, was a hunched-over person carrying a bindle — a twin to a second figure seen behind the arch of “Visions.”

The magazine feature was about the salacious surrealist pavilion Dalí designed for the World’s Fair in New York that year, a presentation which showcased topless women performing as mermaids, called the “Living Liquid Ladies,” inside an architectural funhouse. He decorated the pavilion with fish skeletons, coral appendages and images of Sandro Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus” and Leonardo da Vinci’s “Saint John the Baptist.”

The exterior of Salvador Dalí's "Dream of Venus" pavillion at the 1939 New York World's Fair in Queens.

The exterior of Salvador Dalí’s “Dream of Venus” pavillion at the 1939 New York World’s Fair in Queens. Credit: Sherman Oaks Antique Mall/Getty Images

The funhouse interior of Dalí's World's Fair pavilion featured women performing as mermaids.

The funhouse interior of Dalí’s World’s Fair pavilion featured women performing as mermaids. Credit: Eric Schaal/ullstein bild/Getty Images

“It was definitely supposed to be a spectacle,” Haskell said. “The pavilion was in the amusement zone… so it’s really trying to bring a little bit of surrealism to the public. Dalí makes it totally over the top.”

(Dalí’s plan to show Botticelli’s Venus as an inverted mermaid — with a fish head and human legs — was rejected by World’s Fair organizers, resulting in his issuing of an angry manifesto, “Declaration of the Independence of the Imagination and of the Rights of Man to His Own Madness,” which is also shown in the Art Institute’s exhibition.)

Cohen and Haskell examined photos of the pavilion taken by Dalí’s longtime gallerist, Julien Levy, searching for more connections. Their eureka moment came when they were inspecting an image of a massive mural Dalí painted for the pavilion, and spotted a familiar set of beans. A hodgepodge of his famous tropes, the mural includes the melting clocks of “The Persistence of Memory,” a pair of burning giraffes and an anthropomorphized set of dresser drawers. And to the left of the clocks, they realized, was the entirety of “Visions of Eternity,” partially obscured in the photograph by other decorations.

"Dream of Venus," 1939, as photographed by Eric Schaal. The two beans to the left of the central clock were the clue that the curators needed to confirm that "Visions of Eternity" was a panel taken from this mural.

“Dream of Venus,” 1939, as photographed by Eric Schaal. The two beans to the left of the central clock were the clue that the curators needed to confirm that “Visions of Eternity” was a panel taken from this mural. Credit: Eric Schaal/Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí

At first, the curators assumed Dalí had reproduced their painting for the mural, “quoting” the painting like the other recognizable scenes that made up the giant artwork, Haskell explained.

But when they brought their findings to the conservation team, the true nature of the painting revealed itself. “The conservators said, ‘No, that is the painting… that is the actual canvas,'” Haskell recalled. They could tell by the way the canvas had been cut from the larger mural — the edges matched up perfectly to the scene Dalí had painted for his pavilion.

“It was a shock,” Cohen added.

Now, “Visions of Eternity” has been renamed to “Dream of Venus” — the title of the full mural — and redated to 1939, after decades of being misclassified within the Art Institute’s collection. While some of the mural’s sister panels are properly identified in the collection of the Hiroshima Prefectural Museum in Japan, others appear to be missing. Haskell and Cohen still have other questions, about why the mural was divided into separate pieces, why the Art Institute’s portion was renamed “Visions of Eternity,” and its whereabouts before 1966, when Shapiro and his wife acquired it for their collection.

In March, the curators and conservators will present their findings so far in a program at the Art Institute, but research will be “ongoing for a long, long time,” Cohen said.

In the meantime, “Dream of Venus” now hangs in the third room of “Salvador Dalí: The Image Disappears” along with other freshly analyzed works, providing more insight into the 20th-century artist, whose enigmatic symbolism and larger-than-life personality have become legend.

Haskell says the exhibition is an opportunity to engage with the artworks with new understanding, paying attention to Dali’s remarkable techniques and the trajectory that brought him fame.

“I have always felt that people stopped looking at Dalí at some point along the way — his publicity, his persona, really did take center stage,” Haskell said. “He’s so popular, but have we actually maybe overlooked what made his painting so fantastic in their own time?”

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Is This The Actual Cover-Art For ‘The Winds Of Winter’? – Forbes



I’ve penned many an article and blog post about the long, long wait between books in George R.R. Martin’s fantasy series A Song Of Ice And Fire upon which the HBO hit show Game Of Thrones was based. Mostly, when I post these it’s some kind of grappling with disappointment, some attempt to give up the ghost and move on from what used to be my favorite fantasy series of all time.

After all, the world has changed since A Dance With Dragons released back in 2011. I’ve changed, too. Maybe I should be able to move on now, nearly twelve years later. I wish I could.

Today, however, I come to you with that terrible, wonderful poisoned chalice: Hope. Winter may be coming at last, and just in time for spring. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a “chalice half-empty” kind of guy when it comes to Martin’s novels. I love his writing—just not the pace of his prose.


But now we have this possible cover art for The Winds Of Winter and while it might not be the official cover art for the book it also might be. The artist, Ertaç Altınöz, released the below image a few days ago on Instagram and Art Station and it’s possible this is more than just fan-art. This is, after all, the same artist who did the cover art for The Rise Of The Dragon, the new illustrated book set in Martin’s fictional realm of Westeros.

I reviewed that book not too long ago, and it really does have a bunch of lovely art.

That lovely artwork on the cover of Belarion the Black Dread? That’s by Ertaç Altınöz. So when he posted this cover of The Winds Of Winter, I stopped and took note:

When a follower on Instagram asked the artist if this was the official cover, since he’s worked with Martin before, Altınöz replied “I have my moments David, so who knows, my friend?”

That’s what we call ‘playing coy’ and could mean a lot of things. It doesn’t rule out the possibility that this is, indeed, the long-awaited Winds Of Winter cover. Then again, it’s far from a sure thing.

Let’s pretend it’s the real deal for a moment. If it is, that could also mean that we’re getting an official announcement of some kind—perhaps even a release date!—in the not-so-distant future. In the artist’s other Instagram posts, he typically notes when something is a fan poster or fan-art and he doesn’t do that here. Then again, when he posts the official artwork, it usually is accompanied with some kind of publisher copyright—and this, I’m afraid, has none.

I know what you’re thinking. I’m thinking it, too. This is probably nothing, signifying nothing, a bit of fan-art from an artist as hopeful as the rest of us that Martin will finish the damn book and we can all wait another decade for the last one (to probably never come out). I’m not bitter, you’re bitter.

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Imaginary Friends: Barcelona art show aims to connect with our inner child – The Guardian



Nine leading contemporary artists have come together to create an interactive exhibition in Barcelona for kids – and anyone in touch with their inner child.

“Before the pandemic we had the idea of mounting an exhibition of contemporary art for people of all ages, something that children could relate to but also so that older people could relive the experience of being a child and participate as if they were children,” said Martina Millà, who jointly curated the show at the Fundació Joan Miró with Patrick Ronse, the artistic director of the Be-Part contemporary art platform in Belgium.

Millà added: “There’s much in this exhibition that’s therapeutic, above all a return to a pre-pandemic spirit after we’ve all suffered so much.”

Tails Tell Tales, an installation by Afra Eisma.

The show, titled Imaginary Friends, brings together installations from nine contemporary artists, several of whom are known to Ronse from his involvement in the 2018 Play festival of contemporary art.

Outside, at the entrance to the exhibition, visitors are invited to sit on Jeppe Hein’s beguilingly convoluted bench, conceived as a riposte to the hostile architecture of street furniture, such as benches designed so that homeless people cannot sleep on them.

One of the most striking installations is We Are the Baby Gang, a collection of colourful, feathered polar bears created by Paola Pivi, an Italian artist who lives in Alaska, which Millà says is designed to make us consider the anthropomorphic way we look at animals.

Pipilotti Rist’s oversized sofa

The creatures are very tactile but this part of the show is not interactive, leaving one small and disappointed boy to go into a screaming meltdown when he was told off for touching the exhibit.

That aside, the gallery is filled with the babble of excited children and the British artist Martin Creed’s Half the Air in a Given Space gives them plenty of opportunity to let off steam.

Creed has filled a room almost to the ceiling with large orange balloons, creating an immediate feeling of disorientation and claustrophobia accompanied by an irresistible impulse to burst out laughing.

Perhaps the most engaging work in the show is the Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist’s oversized sofa and armchair. Sitting on the enormous sofa, with your feet barely reaching the edge of the seat, never mind the floor, is an Alice in Wonderland moment that provokes a powerful physical memory of childhood.

“These works are a way of inventing a parallel life,” said Millà. “It’s like having an imaginary friend, and also a means of escape.”

Imaginary Friends is at the Fundació Joan Miró in Barcelona until 2 July

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Inspired by a Lifetime exhibition showcases art by nonagenarians –



A local artist is capturing the beauty in sunset years by teaching seniors how to paint. Their work has made the walls of a local gallery. 

“I thought I’d be dead before I got famous. Thank God that’s not the case,” jokes 92-year-old Keith Sumner, one of the many seniors whose original art is displayed at the exhibit titled Inspired by a Lifetime at Stonebridge Art Gallery.

A resident of Leacock Retirement Lodge in Orillia, he is one of the students taking lessons with Lisa Harpell, an Elmvale-based artist who has been teaching art classes to seniors in retirement homes in the region. 


The work of about 40 senior artists ranging in age from 81 to 101 years old from seven retirement communities is on display at the Wasaga Beach gallery until March 27. The show includes work done by residents from Waterside Retirement Lodge (Wasaga Beach), Chartwell Whispering Pines (Barrie), Aspira Waterford Retirement Residents (Barrie), Allandale Station (Barrie), Lavita Barrington Retirement Lodge (Barrie), Bayfield House (Penetanguishene), and Leacock Retirement Lodge (Orillia).

The exhibition also includes Harpell’s paintings and sculptures. 

True to its title, each painting displayed for Inspired by a Lifetime has an impactful story to tell.

Verna Stovold, who suffers from macular degeneration, was one of Lisa Harpell’s students whose work is part of the Inspired by a Lifetime exhibit now on at Stonebridge Art Gallery. Contributed photo by Lisa Harpell

Verna Stovold, who lives with macular degeneration, is one of the many seniors attending the classes.

“Verna paints beautifully because her body remembers how to paint background, middle ground and foreground,” said her teacher, Harpell. “She tells us the paint that she wants and she dabs her brush and goes right ahead and paints. She asks me all the time if it’s okay if she comes to class … I say, ‘Verna, you’re the one that’s inspiring everyone else.’ Because I am holding up [her] paintings and everybody goes ‘wow.’” 

Stovold has two large paintings and ten studies included in the exhibition.

The process of training seniors to paint has been extremely gratifying for Harpell. 

“It is deeply satisfying to the soul. It brings me to tears all the time,” she said. “Because I know that what they created is worth showing. And it needs to be brought to the community not only for their sake, but for the community to realize that anyone can do this. Creativity is something that gives us hope. And that is something that is necessary in this world right now.” 

In her early days, Georgian College, Barrie, grad worked with the late Canadian artist, William Ronald. 

“He really did bring out the kid in me. He was such a kid himself. And that [thought] is what I really try to pass on, not only his legacy. I also find that the child in every one of my students wants to just play with paint and get their hands dirty. And have some fun and laughs,” says the mother of four. 

Alysanne Dever, lifestyle and programs manager at Chartwell Whispering Pines Retirement Residence, said the exhibition and art classes have brought a wave of positivity for the artists, their family, and their caretakers. 

“This is the first time that I have ever seen or heard of an art gallery showing for seniors with no prior experience,” says Dever, noting the opening day reception crowd packed the gallery. “Really, that’s what it’s all about! The residents were so proud that people were complimenting and wanting to learn about what inspired them to paint specific photos. One of our residents actually sold an art piece as well and she was so thrilled!”

Dever is a strong proponent of the benefits of art therapy, and says it provides residents with a creative outlet to express what might otherwise stay bottled up. 

The talented group of senior artists at Chartwell Allandale Station Retirement Residence. Contributed photo by Lisa Harpell

“This allows them to escape from reality, even for a little bit as they immerse themselves in their art piece in that moment,” says Dever. “Art therapy encourages seniors to use their creativity and gives them a sense of control and independence, which are essential qualities as you age.”

Not every brush stroke is smooth, and not every day was wrinkle-free for Harpell while she taught lessons in retirement homes. From outbreaks and whiteouts to loss of confidence, the behind-the-scenes training and coordination to make the exhibit happen meant clearing several hurdles. 

And yet, Harpell says, it is during the most trying circumstances that intuitive art therapy has a larger role to play, especially among the community’s vulnerable ones. Art has played such a role in Sumner’s life, after he picked up the brush in his 90s. 

“Painting puts you in a different mindset. Takes you away from everyday things,” says Sumner. “My perception of things has changed. The sky is different every day… and it intrigues me. I am observing things more critically, in more detail…and painting has encouraged that.” 

The exhibit is supported by the Wasaga Society for the Arts, in part because it helps accomplish the society’s mandate of making art accessible. 

The society’s interim president, Steve Wallace, said the group aims to introduce the community to all kinds of art, and to promote diversity and inclusion for artists and patrons. 

The Inspired by a Lifetime exhibition runs at the Stonebridge Art Gallery until March 27 on Thursdays and Saturdays and on Monday, March 27 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Lisa Harpell at the Christopher Cutts Gallery in Toronto where she attended an event honoring her late mentor Canadian artist William Ronald. Contributed photo by Antoine Adeux

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