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On the Shores of Freedom

Salvador Dali Aliyah Collection at U-Denver

On the Shores of Freedom

“Aliyah: The Rebirth of Israel” provides a rare look at the notorious Surrealist Salvador Dali’s connection to Israel through a series of 25 colored lithographs that explore the Jewish Diaspora and Israel’s independence. The collection is on display from September 9 to December 31 and officially opens with a reception on September 9, 2012 at 3:30 p.m. at the David and Laura Merage Foundation Art Gallery at the Merage and Allon Hillel Center at the University of Denver.

Professor David Blumenthal, the owner of the series and the Jay and Leslie Cohen Professor of Judaic Studies at Emory University in Atlanta, GA, will present a lecture on the series at 4:00 p.m. Admission is free, and reservations are required. Register for the reception at www.hillelcolorado.org/dali.

This is a great opportunity for Coloradans to experience a rare work by one of the greatest artists of the 20th century,” said Kelli Theis, Executive Director. “While Dali is synonymous with melting clocks and an outsize handlebar moustache, we don’t normally associate him with Israel. We hope this exhibit will challenge viewers perceptions of Dali, Israel, and the Diaspora, and see his work in a new light.”

Originally published in 1968 in honor of Israel’s 20th anniversary, Aliyah is a little-known suite in which the late Spanish surrealist portrays the history of the Jewish Diaspora and the return to the homeland.

The exhibit premiered April 1968 at the former Huntington Hartford Museum Gallery of Modern Art in New York, now known as 2 Columbus Circle. The complete collection of these paintings was converted into 250 sets of lithographs, and were signed by Dali, then auctioned for the benefit of Israel Bonds.

Professor Blumenthal saw the exhibit and later owned lithographs of the collection when his wife purchased one of the available 250 sets for him as a gift in the 1980’s. The suite has remained pristine in its original box until the exhibit was first mounted in 2011 at Emory University where the professor teaches Judaic Studies.

The exhibit is part of a national tour of Hillels. The Denver leg is the premier of the complete collection, which is on loan to Hillel at the University of Denver from Prof. Blumenthal through December 2012. This set (No. 150 of 250), has been maintained in its original box and framed for this exhibit.

The prints are accompanied by a large-format book with the text written by Gerson D. Cohen. The introduction was written and signed by David Ben Gurion, the first prime minister of Israel. A full commentary on the exhibit was written by Prof. Blumenthal and is available on his website.

“The exhibit’s most important contribution may be the welcome attention it gives to the artist’s direct references to Jewish history, which have been heretofore dismissed as inconsequential or ignored altogether,” said Dali expert Dr. Elliott H. King, art historian and Dali scholar at Washington and Lee University. “Through the curators’ choice to rearrange the lithographs in a thematic-historical sequence that underscores Dalí’s quotations from Jewish history, Aliyah is seen here afresh and with newfound gravitas.”

“Aliyah: The Rebirth of Israel” will be on display at the David and Laura Merage Foundation Art Gallery at the University of Denver, 2390 S. Race Street, Denver, CO 80210 from September 9, 2012-December 2012. Gallery hours are Monday-Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The exhibit is free to the public, and is made possible by the generous support of the David and Laura Merage Foundation.

For more information, contact Lori Goldman, Development Associate, Hillel of Colorado, at 303-777-2773 x 224 or lori@hillelcolorado.orgFor more information about Hillel of Colorado, visit www.hillelcolorado.org.


About Lori Goldman

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One comment

  1. That is an impressive collection!