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Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art Opens Salvador Dali Exhibit

The Shawnee News-Star

 Photos provided by the Park West Museum:

Dante's Ecstasy - The Divine Comedy, Paradise, 1960
The Angel - The Divine Comedy, Paradise, 1960
Dante Purified - The Divine Comedy, Purgatory, 1960

The Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art opens the exhibit Salvador Dali’s Stairway to Heaven: Illustrations for Les Chants de Maldoror and the Divine Comedy on September 11, 2020.  The exhibition was organized by the Park West Museum in Michigan.

Les Chants de Maldoror was a favorite among the Surrealists, many of whom found beauty in art and literature devoted to the pursuit of the irrational and the unorthodox. A poetic novel of sorts that unfolds in a non-linear fashion, Les Chants de Maldoror describes the violent and perverse character of a despicable protagonist who has renounced God, humanity, and conventional morality.

Dante's Divine Comedy is considered to be one of the most important works in the history of Italian literature. Although it too is a poetic narrative, The Divine Comedy is told sequentially, taking its readers along with Dante on a journey through Hell (Inferno), Purgatory, and Paradise. Allegorically, it is often interpreted as representing the trajectory of the soul towards God.

When Dali illustrated Les Chants de Maldoror in the early 1930s, he identified as a Surrealist. By the time Dali's illustrations for the Divine Comedy were published in 1960, Dali had renounced Surrealism and become a born-again Catholic.

Taken together, this exhibition brings the viewer from depravity to God through these texts and illustrations.

In order to celebrate the Shawnee community, the museum is hosting the OBU Bison Brigade on the museum lawn on Friday, September 18 at 5:45.  Bring your blankets or lawn chairs and enjoy the music outside in a socially distanced manner.  The museum will be open and free of charge from 5:00-7:30pm as part of this community celebration.  The museum is limited to 10 people in the galleries at a time.

The Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art is located on the OBU Green campus, 1900 W. MacArthur St. in Shawnee.  The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.  Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors age 65 or older, $3 for students and children ages 6 to 17, and free for children age 5 and younger. Visit for more information.

This exhibition is brought to you in part by the Park West Museum, Oklahoma Arts Council, Allied Arts, Avedis Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, and the Mr. and Mrs. R. J. Wissinger Memorial Trust. For accommodations on the basis of disability or more information on this exhibit, call the museum at (405) 878-5300.