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Arts Alive! podcast: Peter Tush, the Dali Museum

Bill DeYoung



As the Dali Museum’s Curator of Education, Peter Tush is the person who decides how the works of the Surrealist master, and of the other artists on exhibition alongside Dali, should be “interpreted” for the public. He trains the museum’s docents, writes the audio tours and the gallery labels, arranges school programming and gives talks – lots of talks – about each exhibit as it debuts. Tush works closely with the exhibit curators as every new show is in development.

In this Arts Alive! podcast interview, the question is put to him: How does one “explain” Surrealism, which by its very nature defies simple interpretation?

Luckily, Tush not only has a sense of humor, he knows exactly the right way to answer such an open-ended query.

“Dahlia,” from Flora Dalinae, 1968, aquatint and hard-ground etching with pochoir; Collection of the Dali Museum, St. Petersburg, FL..

“We try to make (visitors) understand that there was a rational approach to the world at one point, and this movement called Surrealism challenged that. And really thought that the irrational was a big part of who we are – and we need to have that in order to be balanced people.”

He’ll begin there, Tush says, and then go ever-so-carefully down the many rabbit holes of the Spanish icon’s life and career.

The museum has a new exhibition opening Saturday. Reimagining Nature: Dali’s Floral Fantasies is a collection of 1968-72 works-on-paper from the permanent collection, in which Dali has transformed existing prints of plants and flowers into images that bring them decidedly out and in front of the natural world: They become faces, arms, legs, hands, feet. Eggs over easy and phonograph records.

“I really, firmly believe that Dali was wired different,” Tush says. “He has this quote that’s in the show: ‘To see is to invent.’ And I think he took it very seriously through his whole life, that he saw things differently and he developed the capacity to share that vision with others. Things that they would not see.”

Click on the arrow to listen to the interview.

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  1. Avatar

    Scott Simmons

    May 18, 2024at4:41 pm

    Way to go Peter!

  2. Avatar

    Velva Lee Heraty

    May 17, 2024at9:30 pm

    A great listen. Peter is brilliant and gifted in what Einstein described as explaining complexity, simply.

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