Salvador Dali's Dream of Venus: The Surrealist Funhouse from the 1939 World's Fair (英語) ハードカバー – 2002/11/1
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Life Magazine wrote that one funhouse at the 1939 World's Fair stood out among the others:
"Dal's Dream of Venus, the creation of famed Surrealist painter Salvador Dal, is the most recent addition to the still-growing list of amusement-area girl shows and easily the most amazing. Weird building contains a dry tank and a wet tank. In the wet tank girls swim under water, milk a bandaged-up cow, tap typewriter keys which float like seaweed. Keyboard of piano is painted on the recumbent female figure made of rubber. In dry tank...a sleeping Venus reclines in 36-foot bed, covered with white and red satin, flowers, and leaves. Scattered about the bed are lobsters frying on beds of hot coals and bottles of champagne....All this is most amusing and interesting."
The building's modern, expressionistic exterior, with an entrance framed by a woman's legs, and shocking interior, including the bare-breasted "living liquid ladies" who occupied the tanks, caused quite a stir. The funhouse was so successful that it reopened for a second season, but once torn down it faded from memory and its outlandishness became the stuff of urban myth. Now, more than 60 years later, a collection of photographs of the Dream of Venus by Eric Schaal has been discovered. In stunning black-and-white and early Kodachrome, they show both the construction and the completion of the funhouse-from Dal painting a melting clock to showgirls parading for their audience. Salvador Dal's Dream of Venus reveals not only an eccentric work of architecture, but also a one-of-a-kind creation by one of the most fertile imaginations of the 20th century.
Ingrid Schaffner is senior curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia. She is the author of several books, including Essential Series monographs on Picasso, Matisse, Warhol, and Man Ray. She lives in New York City.
Full of bizarre imagery pulled from Freudian psychology and the depths of Dali's own mind, visitors were treated to topless models cavorting in aquaria and other tableaux of surreal landscapes such as a 36-foot bed topped with lobsters baking on hot coals, a taxicab containing a rainstorm and Christopher Columbus, and an undersea mummified cow. Apparently a psychotic dream-rant by B-movie actress Ruth Ford played on endlessly in the darkness as well.
Schaffner gives a brief textual description of a walk-through of the pavilion, followed by a history of the exhibition's development. Schaal's recently discovered photographs are the primary illustrations; they document both the exhibit space as well as behind-the-scenes shots of the models in costume fittings and the construction of the pavilion.
The book, while fascinating, does leave one wanting more; certainly other photographs and film clips documenting the pavilion exist, possibly also of its rehab in 1940 as "20,000 Legs Under the Sea" (!), which would have been interesting in addition to the Schaal photos. Schaffner also very briefly quotes contemporary descriptions of the pavilion, lengthier passages would have been nice. It seems she is focusing on newly-discovered material, but since so little of the old material is easily available, its inclusion would have been well-justified.
All in all, though, a beautifully produced volume on a rare melding of high art and carnival culture, the likes of which will undoubtedly never be seen again. Highly recommended.