Tonawanda News

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August 27, 2013

New Castellani exhibit features cookbook prints by Salvador Dali

Tonawanda News — The folks over at the Castellani Art Museum at Niagara University must be pretty hungry these days.

With an exhibit in the folk arts galleries about cultural and religious uses of foods, a TopSpin solo exhibit by University at Buffalo student Mary A. Johnson featuring images made in part from juices and smudges of fruit and other food items (which ends today), and an upcoming TopSpin solo show by Jody Hanson of paintings made with salt beginning Sept. 8, it may be a little surprising — or maybe even fitting — that Castellani Curator of Collections and Exhibitions Michael Beam chose another food-related show to be the museum’s next traveling exhibit.

Ultimately, the choice to put on view a collection of 12 prints illustrating a cookbook by surrealist Salvador Dali was a happy coincidence. “Les Diners de Gala,” by Dali is on display at the museum through Feb. 14.

“It was serendipitous,” Beam said. “It just so happens that while (Curator of Folk Arts) Carrie Hertz was (developing “(Almost) Too Good To Eat,”) I was thinking of “Gala.” It just happened accidentally ... sometimes accidents are the best thing.”

The exhibit features 12 prints Dali created to serve as chapter illustrations for a book of more than 100 recipes he compiled. The book says Dali is the author, but in actuality, commissioned several well-known French chefs at the time to submit recipes for meat, seafood, desserts and even a whole chapter focused on foods considered to be aphrodisiacs.

“He, of course, being Dali took the credit” for the book, Beam said.

Being the brainchild of an artist best known for painting melting clocks and amorphous humanoid figures, and having a kooky mustache, it should be no surprise that the recipes and illustrations are eccentric, combining a mix of appetizing-sounding dishes, with some that just seem bizarre.

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