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'Clyde Butcher: Visions Of Dalí’s Spain' Gives Insight Into Surrealist Paintings

Jun 27, 2018

Salvador Dali's surrealist, often bizarre, painted landscapes were not a product of his imagination - but based on the beaches, rock formations and dream-like skies of the Catalonian coast in Spain.

The Dali Museum recently commissioned Clyde Butcher to travel there to take a series of black and white photographs to document Dali's homeland.

More than 40 of those photos are now on display at the St. Petersburg museum. The show will be Butcher’s first photo exhibition of Spain, as well as the first time he has been commissioned to photograph an area that influenced another artist.

Butcher, a landscape photographer best known for his photos of the Florida Everglades and Big Cypress, does not believe color photos would have had the same impact. 

To create this special exhibition, The Dali invited Clyde Butcher, the renowned nature photographer often called “Florida’s Ansel Adams,” to explore and visually document Salvador Dali’s homeland.
Credit Courtesy the Dali Museum.

"How would you use the same colors he used?” Butcher asked. “Black and white shows you the textures, the feeling. You can't compete with his color work. So black and white was the really obvious choice in doing this. I think it would have been a disaster in color."

Peter Tush, Curator of Education at the Dali, said Butcher's images take you on a journey to the village of Cadaqués, where Dalí spent summers while growing up, Dalí’s house in Port Lligat and the rugged region of Cap de Creus – all areas prominently featured in Dalí’s works.

“As you explore Dali's paintings, you see these regions but you don't quite register that they're real,” Tush said. “And what Clyde's been able to do has been capture very clearly how absolutely amazing and overwhelming the world is that Dali grew up in."

The exhibit runs through Nov. 25. Butcher himself will sign books at The Dalí on June 30, Sept. 29, and Nov. 3.