|© Philippe Halsman und/and Salvador Dalí, Dalí’s Mustache, 1953, Privatsammlung Wien/Private Collection, Vienna. © Magnum Photos / Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí, Figueres, 2011. Image Rights of Salvador Dalí reserved.|
Today I visited the Salvador Dali exhibit at Vienna’s Kuntshalle. Much of the exhibit focused on Dali’s strange and disturbing illustrations in pen and ink. Arms and legs intertwined in odd contortions. An arm saws off its own leg. A clock melts on the branch of a tree.
As I moved along the line of framed pieces, I was struck by a couple quietly chatting in front of one of the many ink drawings. They were engrossed in a long discussion about the particular piece before them. As I moved towards the pair, the man smiled at me, which gave me the courage to ask, “What did you see?” The man was quite animated. “Oh, we are trying to understand the meaning! Some pieces are easy to understand. For example, this piece here…”
He proceeded to give me a long explanation of a piece I had just been viewing, describing how it depicted a man dreaming, leaving the reality of his bed and floating upward into the surreal.
“Wow!” I thought. I had not seen what this viewer had seen at all. Yet once he described his interpretation, I saw it clearly. “Oh, yes!” I said, happy to learn his view.
It is nice to be by oneself to explore and experience the world. But it is much nicer to share the world – and all its interpretations – with others. Don’t you think?