Johannes Vermeer, Woman in Blue Reading a Letter, c. 1663. Oil on canvas, Courtesy of the Rijksmuseum; Salvador Dalí, The Image Disappears, 1938, Oil on canvas, courtesy of Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí
The Meadows Museum in Dallas hosts an exhibition that presents Johannes Vermeer’s Woman in Blue Reading a Letter and Salvador Dalí’s The Image Disappears together for the first time. On December 1st, the museum organizes a panel discussion “Dalí and the Pursuit of Vermeer.”
In The Image Disappears, Dalí takes the basic forms and elements of Vermeer’s composition—a woman wearing a blue night jacket, standing in profile reading a letter in front of an unseen window from which emanates soft light—and plays a visual trick on viewers, creating a second image of a mustachioed male face in profile that has been identified as that of Velázquez.
Not even Dalí would have seen these two paintings side-by-side; thus, the exhibition offers the unique opportunity to contemplate imitator and imitated within the context of the Meadows’s collection of Spanish art. The Meadows welcomes visitors to not only enjoy this rare moment to see a Vermeer in Texas, but to contemplate the broader question of imitation: is it flattery or conceit? Additional works by Dalí from the Meadows’s collection, including works on paper, will be featured elsewhere in the museum and round out this fall’s celebration of the artist and his many evocations of art historical themes.
The panel discussion, on December 1st from 6 PM to 7 PM, takes place between Esmée Quodbach, independent art historian, and Danielle M. Johnson, director of curatorial affairs atEskenazi Museum of Art at Indiana University. The discussion is moderated by Amanda W. Dotseth, director ad interim and curator of the Meadows Museum.
Spanish artist Salvador Dalí’s (1909–1989) admiration for old master artists is well known, and he held none in higher esteem than Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer (1632–1675). Dalí reveled in the scale of Vermeer’s work, the seemingly photographic rendering of his paintings, his approach to light and color, and his enigmatic figures. Held in conjunction with the Meadows Museum’s focused exhibition Dalí/Vermeer: A Dialogue, this special double lecture will explore Dalí’s deep and sustained engagement with the Dutch master. Quodbach will address the re-discovery of Vermeer in the nineteenth century, after nearly 150 years of relative obscurity; Johnson will explore Dalí’s interest in Vermeer and how that appears in the Spanish artist’s oeuvre; the program will conclude with a panel discussion moderated by Dotseth.