Museum of Monterey to establish a permanent Salvador Dali exhibition

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"A Surrealistic Night in an Enchanted Forest" party
Photo by Julian P. Graham

T he Monterey County Weekly and the Monterey Herald reported yesterday that "what might be the world’s most comprehensive collection of Dali’s graphic art is coming to the Museum of Monterey. Permanently." The reported collection by the Spanish surrealist painter belongs to businessman Dmitry Piterman, an Ukranian-born real estate investor currently living in Pebble Beach. Piterman moved to Spain in 1998 and became fascinated with the flamboyant Spanish painter. He has been collecting Dali's works for about 10 years and has amassed an impressive collection of more than 550 pieces which includes lithographs, etchings, sculptures, tapestries and “mixed media, but no paintings.


I was very surprised to know that Dali lived and worked in Monterey in the 1930s and 1940s and I'm sure not many people know about Dali's presence on the Monterey Peninsula. David Schmalz explains it quite well in his Weekly article: "While the region rightfully celebrates John Steinbeck and Ed Ricketts, Robert Louis Stevenson and Robinson Jeffers, Henry Miller and Jack Kerouac, it has not yet claimed Dali as one of its own." In fact, I learned that Dali was an early member of the Carmel Art Association, exhibiting photographs and helping jury the then-annual competitive art exhibition open to high school students.

Photographer Julian P. Graham immortalized Dali's work in the region in a series of photographs of an extravagant gala costume party designed by the Spanish painter at the Hotel Del Monte, now the U.S. Navy Postgraduate School, on September 2, 1941. The party of the century titled "A Surrealistic Night in an Enchanted Forest" was a fund-raiser for refugee artists fleeing the Nazi regime and was graced with the presence of various celebrities including Bob Hope, Clark Gable, Bing Crosby, Alfred Hitchcock and Gloria Vanderbilt among others.

Piterman will be managing the day-to-day workings of the museum and is planning to establish the first-ever permanent exhibition of Salvador Dali’s work on the West Coast. “The community is going to be known worldwide for this,” the Weekly article reports Piterman’s publicist Katrina Semmes as saying.

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