“Salvador Dali and the Divine Comedy, Part III: Paradise” is currently on display at the Reece Museum until June 15. The collection is the final installment of ETSU’s three-year celebration of Dali’s divine comedy series and based on the works of 14th century Italian poet, Dante Alighieri.
The paintings were donated to the university by Dr. Frank Barham, an ETSU alumnus. At the exhibit’s opening reception on April 5, Barham spoke on how he came to be interested in art and acquired the collection.
“I was always interested in art – even as a child I was more concerned with making mud figures as opposed to mud pies,” said Barham.
“I attended a charity auction in the eighties where they had one Dali painting from the ‘Purgatory’ series and I wasn’t very familiar with his work, but the piece was so unique and incidentally highly wanted at that auction so I bought it.”
He continued saying that the more he read about Dali, the more he started to appreciate the work of art he purchased and he became more aware of Dali’s representation of Dante. His interest motivated him to collect more Dali pieces to the point where he began running out of space.
In preparation for a move to Philadelphia, Dr. Barham decided that he would donate the collection, which he refers to as his “children” – his only condition being that it would never be split up or sold and because of his close ties to the university, ETSU became the lucky recipient of the coveted collection.
The exquisite collection includes one hundred paintings and quite vividly portrays Dali’s highly imaginative and eccentric personality. The exhibit as well as a reading of poems inspired by Dali’s illustrations are both free and open to the public. The reading will take place on April 12 at noon at the museum. The Reece Museum is open on Mondays through Fridays from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
For more information on the collection or other exhibits available at the Reece Museum visit www.etsu.edu/reece or call 423-439-4392.