Salvador Dalí, “The Quest,” 1981

Central to the design of the museum is the collection it will contain. As I’ve worked with the collection for the past two years, I have had the pleasure of introducing students to a resource that few of them knew OSU had. In the following essay, student Tiffany McAnarney shares her experience of discovering one of our prints by Spanish artist Salvador Dalí. It is my hope that the museum will allow many more students to discover the excitement of our university’s permanent collection.

I almost didn’t believe it when I saw the listing for Salvador Dalí in the permanent collection catalog for Oklahoma State University. I tried to see if maybe we had a fake or if I was hallucinating, but to no avail. We really do have an original Salvador Dalí print in our possession, titled The Quest. The work is a hand-colored aquatint, and one of an edition of 300 made by Dalí in 1981. It is believed to be one of the last works he did before his death in 1989.

Salvador Dalí, "The Quest," 1981. Etching and aquatint, Gardiner Permanent Art Collection, gift of Dr. Robert Siebold.

The print was donated by Dr. Robert Siebold in December of 1983. It is hand-signed and numbered by Dalí. The white cubistic figure riding bareback, and bare naked, is the central focus of the piece. He is surging to the left; spear and shield in hand. The figure charges towards a large green figure, tornado-like in form. Behind the horseman appears to be a cloud of blue dust, while red rocks float aimlessly along the ground. The horizon line cuts through behind the figure, a bit over half-way up at a diagonal. This aids in moving the viewer’s eye from the bottom right corner over the green figure in the upper left.

At first glance, I know this isn’t real. The whole scene actually seems to me as if it is a small model taking place on a countertop. The lack of shadows or shading makes the print feel very flat. But, there is something very curious about all of this. Why would Dalí create a print titled The Quest at such a mature stage of his life? According to biographies of Dalí’s life, at the time this was made, he was suffering tremendously from Parkinson-like symptoms in his right hand. Perhaps the piece is a representation of the artist trying to defeat his own monsters. Who really knows with Dalí? The only thing that is certain is that his work has a lot of depth. I am thrilled to be a part of an art department that actually owns a Dalí print! I hope we can put it on the 2nd floor by the Watercolor room so I can look at it everyday.

Tiffany McAnarney was a student in Art 3683: History of Twentieth Century Art in Fall 2010.


About osucurator

Louise Siddons is Associate Professor of Art History at Oklahoma State University and founding curator of the Oklahoma State University Museum of Art. She maintains this blog as a record of her students' work with the Museum's permanent collection as well as more generally with topics related to museum studies.
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3 Responses to Salvador Dalí, “The Quest,” 1981

  1. Kay Wisniewski says:

    The tornado is in the shape of a medieval quintain, which jousters used for practice, not for actual combat. Not sure how that applies to the meaning of the print, but it might make a difference.

  2. What a wonderful story to have such donations that students and the public have access to works from artists like Salvador Dali.

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