Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Dali for the Masses
We picked our way to the rear of the main entrance and sure enough, the first sculpture, "Woman Aflame" was literally being scaled by a snotty-nosed five-year-old while her mother negligently sampled Godiva truffles a few feet away. Mr. Dali, I'm sure, was rolling over in his mausoleum. We were appropriately aghast. Eventually, the woman called off her little beast and we were able to view the sculpture without its added appendage. It, actually, was fairly interesting. Not that I know a ton about art (obviously), but the motion of the figure was captivating and the angle of her back, the blank expression on her face, and the empty drawers protruding from her body made me, somehow, feel her tragic desperation. I decided to take a walk around the sculpture. Yeah . . . not so much. I tried from every angle to get a view of the sculpture from more than two feet away and was cut off within thirty seconds by one oblivious shopper or another. Truly, after a few minutes of trying to genuinely appreciate this DALI, I was so frustrated that I didn't care anymore. Hiatt folded her arms and gestured toward a large brass sculpture of one of his famous melting clocks. A woman with a stroller and seventeen shopping bags was literally moving the red rope around it to accommodate her girth. No attention was paid to the piece of art above her. She was too busy sipping her latte and looking for the Coach store. Wow. Just . . . wow.
As Hiatt and I diligently perused the remainder of the pieces throughout the mall, I wondered how many other of these sculptures had been made from the same cast. Somehow, that made it a little less special that there were other "Women Aflame" (potentially in other shopping malls throughout the world). Not that I thought a first-grader should have permission to climb on the one in New York, but I realized that, perhaps, this exhibit was a little more appropriate to its surroundings than I thought. I looked across the crowd into the Prada and spotted a purple patent leather bag. Now, THAT'S art, I thought. Hmm . . . Maybe that was the point of the whole lost-wax casting thing. How many of these people would ever go to the Vatican Museum in Florence (like me!) and see Dali's "The Trinity"? Probably not many. How many could afford that fabulous Prada yumminess in the window? Definitely not me. I'm guessing these sculptures weren't as pricey as the one-of-a-kind paintings done by Mr. Dali's own hand, so how different were they than a really good Prada knock-off? (Yes, I get that he approved the mold and I'm assuming Miuccia Prada did not approve the knock-offs, but bear with me, here.) Essentially, the folks at the Time Warner Center had brought Dali to the masses. Surrealist art in a shopping mall. Art: everywhere. Will the sculptures make your shopping experience a little more interesting? Yes. Will the people that have been living under a rock and have not seen the melting clocks potentially stop and ponder the brilliance of the concept? Sure. Do the crowded pretentious shopping mall and the kind-of-but-not-really-Dali sculptures deserve one another? Probably.