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5.0 out of 5 stars Venus in purrs, 29 Sept. 2010
Dr. Delvis Memphistopheles "FIST" (London) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Salvador Dali's "Dream of Venus": The Surrealist Funhouse from the 1939 World's Fair (Hardcover)
Describes the collision of American carnie and burlesque sensibilities clashing with Euro mind exploration. All boiling to the head of a lobster pot during this world fair in 1939. As the exhibits turned into orphans whilst Hitler bestrode the world stage gobbling up the national identities in his quest for a Greater Reich, the fayre turned into a surreal expostion. Dali gradually made the change from bon vivant to fascist apologist and his imagination has always been tainted with collaboration.

Dali's house exhibit was a compromise between carnie land burlesque beauties diving in water tanks with the premise of exhibiting erotica and his desire of venus enraptured in dreams. This was the time of moral restraint, the Hays Code stifled sex in film, it was left to carnie land to bring the land of desire to the masses. Dali was chosen because he was a name, he could bring in the masses and he wanted to open up the art to them, a symbiosis.

Th topless girls sold sex whilst Dali sailed away in disgust back to disillusioned with mammon. A flirtation with Hitchcock and Disney provided a brief respite. Ousted from the surreal by Breton because of his showmanship, the man who sold art to the world.

The rooms were his homage to De Sade, Freud and Marx with hefty doses of Magritte. This is the exhibition in large plates of colour doused with black and white. It captures the house before 1940 when the exhibition lost its artistic pretensions and became pure carnie.

The book details the fighting amongst the backers, the owners of the site, the artistic in fighting as Dali took centre stage, his New York arrest for smashing a shop window and his surreal lock up with New York drunks finally rescued by a fellow spaniard before his evenual release.

The exhibit was a mixture of panache, rush and compromise but the whole enterprise was enthused with futuristic desire at a time of complete despair as America tried to dig itself out of depression. WW2 finally turned on the taps and this exhibition helped to define a future vision. That is the power of art, it fills the cavities in the imagination.
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Salvador Dali's "Dream of Venus": The Surrealist Funhouse from the 1939 World's Fair
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