Salvador Dalí and his wife Gala first arrived in New York City on November 14, 1934, after making the transatlantic crossing from France aboard the Champlain with their patroness, Caresse Crosby. In her 1953 memoir The Passionate Years, Crosby noted that Dalí’s cabin was on a lower deck near the machine rooms. While some passengers might have disliked the location, Dalí commented, “I am next to the engine, so that I’ll get there quicker.” The occasion for Dalí’s trip was his solo show at New York City’s Julien Levy Gallery, but he was also eager to experience firsthand the reality of urban America. Dalí’s perception of the city was informed by what he saw at the movies; as a boy, he had been particularly fond of the serial The Mysteries of New York (1914), which depicted the city as immersed in a culture of violence. His 1935 painting The Surrealist Mystery of New York clearly references the serial, containing both archetypal Dalí symbolism (soft watches, ants, a wooden crutch) and recognizable cinematic representations of organized crime and murder.
Dalí in New York explores the artist’s diverse experiences and encounters in New York from the 1930s to the 1960s. In addition, a special panel discussion, Dalí and New York, will take place on September 10 at 6:30 p.m.
Organized by Anne Morra, Assistant Curator, Department of Film.