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Step Inside a Dalí Painting at This Virtual Reality Exhibit

Surrealism meets real life in an exploration of a Dalí masterwork

smithsonian.com

Salvador Dalí took surrealism to a whole new level, exploring the dark spots and infinite possibilities of the human psyche with paintings that feel like they capture dreams. Now, thanks to virtual reality, visitors at The Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, can walk into a living Dalí painting, blurring the line of consciousness in his work even more.

The painting, “Archeological Reminiscence of Millet’s ‘Angelus’,” is based on a work by Jean-François Millet that captures two peasants in a field, praying over a basket of potatoes. Dalí first saw the image as a child and it haunted him for years. “This painting produced in me an obscure anguish, so poignant that the memory of those two motionless silhouettes pursued me for several years with the constant uneasiness provoked by their continual and ambiguous presence,” he wrote.

In the 1930s, Dalí attacked the painting and, in his characteristic style, took it in a whole new direction. He imagines enormous stone monoliths being looked upon by two pairs of figures, both of whom feature a depiction Dalí as a child. As Rob Kleiman writes for PSFK, the new virtual reality depiction of the painting allows viewers explore it from the perspective of the people and the ruins themselves—a dreamlike experience that does justice to the painting’s moody and unearthly subject matter.

The interactive painting is part of an exhibit that explores the surrealist's unlikely friendship and creative partnership with Walt Disney. Running until June 12, "Disney and Dalí: Architects of the Imagination," presents sketches, paintings, correspondence, and other material that tracks the collaboration of the two creative titans. The pair even collaborated on an animated short in the 1940s called Destino.

The flick was abandoned at the time for unknown reasons, but in 2003, the Walt Disney Company finished and released the extraordinary collaboration, giving the world more Dalí. Now, for those longing for more new works by the master, himself, the exhibit’s virtual reality exploration of his surrealist masterpiece might just be the next best thing.

Note: Be sure to scroll around the 360 degree video above to explore the landscape from all angles.

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