In 1955, the Metropolitan Museum somewhat unpredictably acquired its first and only Dali. Considered “melodramatic” though admittedly impressive by some critics, the painting depicts, in the precise aberrant detail of the surrealist master, a crucified figure that may represent the innovator, Christ, modern man, or the artist—perhaps all at once. This theme has appeared before; only one feature of Dali’s work is truly original. The more familiar shape of the instrument of execution has weirdly expanded into a cruciform “Hypercube.” Dali somewhat factiously explained to Time: “Gris created beautiful cubism and Picasso continued it. Now myself has created one complete Hypercubist painting.” But D...
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