Tuesday, March 6, 2018

The Hawthornes Visit St. Petersburg. The Salvador Dali Museum.

Welcome to the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg.
This permanent collection celebrates the life and work of Salvador Dali and features works from his entire career.  It is home to art spanning Dali's lifetime - his artistic legacy- from his student pieces through works of anti-art, surrealism, nuclear mysticism, to his later career creations.

This museum, founded with works collected by Reynolds and Eleanor Morse,  houses the largest collection of Dali outside of Europe. In 1942, the Morses visited the Cleveland Museum of Art
which was featuring a traveling Dali retrospective from New York's Museum of Modern Art.
Intrigued by the artist, the Reynolds bought their first Dali Painting in 1943 - Daddy Longlegs of the Evening, Hope!  It was the first of many acquisitions, culminating 40 years later as the preeminent
collection of Dali's work in America.  The Morses befriended Salvador and his wife, Gala, during their hiatus in the US during the 40s and began assembling the largest private Dali art collection in the world.  Dali's works were first displayed in the Morses' home.  During the 70s, the Morses decided to donate their entire collection.  After a Wall Street Journal article entitled, "U.S. Art World Dillydallies Over Dali,"  the St. Petersburg community rallied to bring the collection to their area.  In January of 1980, St. Petersburg attorney, James W. Martin, read the article and organized a dynamic group of community leaders who flew to the Morses' home in Ohio and presented them with a plan to find a suitable location for their collection.  The Morses visited St. Petersburg and accepted an idea to remodel a marine warehouse on Bayboro Harbor, a location that reminded them of Dali's childhood home on the Mediterranean.  On March 10, 1982, the Dali Museum opened to the public in St. Petersburg.  It houses 96 of Dali's oil paintings, 125 of his watercolors and drawings, 2500 of his prints and photographs, 250 of his objets d'art, and a library of 5000 books about him and/or his works.

The Dali Museum overlooks Tampa Bay.  It is a striking building - a concrete trapezoid wrapped in  undulating waves of glass and steel.  The curving dome, a geodesic glass bubble - "Glass Enigma" - stands 75 feet at its tallest and is composed of 1062 glass triangles, no two identical, with each having a bar-code to identify it. 

Standing over 75 feet tall, the structure can withstand a Cat 5 hurricane and open its doors to the public the next day.  The art work is enclosed within concrete a foot thick in all directions.

Now, this is neat.
This is Dali's wife, Gala,  Contemplating the Mediterranean Sea
 which at twenty meters transforms into a portrait of Abraham Lincoln.

Dali was an avid reader of Scientific American, and the inspiration for this painting came from that magazine in a 1973 article entitled "The Recognition of Faces" by Leon D. Harmon.  Harmon was best known for his studies in photomosaics (creating large prints from collections of small symbols or images) and his pixelated block portrait of Lincoln taken from the five dollar bill.

Above is Harmon's block image rendering of Lincoln.
Stand way back to view it
and you'll see Lincoln.
Notice this image is incorporated into a block
in Dali's portrait at bottom left.

 Harmon had taken an image of Abraham Lincoln from a $5 bill and produced “block averaging” renderings of it. Block averaging means that the image is broken down into blocks of a grid and each block is filled in with the average gray-scale value for that block; essentially a single tone per pixel.Harmon (et al) found that the minimum number of blocks needed for facial recognition was 16 x 16 blocks (256 total).

Dali believed the pixelation could be less and set out to create a 121 pixel painting rather than the 256 pixel painting Harmon said was the minimum possible. The painting by Dali is essentially two pictures in one, with Lincoln’s component being made of “low spatial frequencies” while Gala’s component is made of “high spatial frequencies”. This basically means that its easiest to see Lincoln’s face when looking at the painting when you’re standing far away from it (around 20 meters), and its easiest to see the portion with Gala when up close to the painting. The colors Dali used in the high spatial frequency portion of Gala, the sunset, and the ocean–when far away–match the skin tone of Lincoln and make the viewer’s brain “fill in” the rest of the painting to match the well known portrait of Lincoln.

This is but another architectural feet in the Dali building - a soaring spiral staircase of solid concrete that is a nod to Dali's fascination with the double helix structure of DNA.

You can't see it,
but it was raining inside the car.

The Golden Rectangle
 The proportions of a golden rectangle, as Euclid described, accord to the golden ratio, that is, 1:phi.
The shorter side is to the longer side as the longer side is to the sum of the shorter plus the longer sides. 

Dali was fascinated that the golden ratio pervades our world, from the structure of shells to the proportions of the human face, to the creations of our imagination in architecture and art.

Solved algebraically:  Phi = (1 + √5)

Simplified further, it renders the irrational number you see in the border, a number sequence that is non-repeating and endless.

A golden rectangle contains a perfect square and another golden rectangle.  This relation is infinitely scalable and recursive.

An iconic "melting watch" bench
sits in the Avant Garden.

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