‘Avant-Garde’ lecture series creates USF St. Petersburg and Dalí Museum partnership

St. Petersburg is home to one of the most comprehensive collections of original surrealist artwork. Second only to Dalí’s museum in Spain, St. Petersburg’s Salvador Dalí Museum houses one of the largest original Dalí collections and is conveniently located near USF St. Petersburg.

The Dalí museum’s collection was originally maintained by A. Reynolds and Eleanor R. Morse and was displayed in their Ohio home until the early 1970s. As Reynolds and Morse allowed their collection of Dalí originals to grow, the couple decided that the compilation needed a larger gallery for its display.

But shortly after the opening of the Cleveland Dalí exhibit, the couple realized that the continuously expanding collection had outgrown its museum.

During the early 1980s, a St. Petersburg attorney, James W. Martin, expressed interest in purchasing the Dalí collection, worth millions. Martin’s efforts proved successful when St. Petersburg’s Dalí Museum opened on March 10, 1982.

Now in its 22nd year, the Dalí museum is partnering with the USF to present an introductory lecture series, Avant-Garde. When discussing art, avant-garde refers to reinventing techniques.

“Holding the series at the Dalí museum enhances the role of the museum in the community, and of course is an entirely relevant locus for the notion of the avant-garde,” said Anne Jeffrey, a professor of art history who will be speaking during the lecture series on Oct. 25.

The museum will host the Avant-Garde lectures twice monthly beginning today. During each segment of the series, lectures will include experts on the avant-garde movements and the media used by avant-gardists from USF, Clemson University and the Dali Museum.

“The talks are not designed for professional academic audiences but for people who are simply interested in learning more about the avant-garde and its links to other aspects of modern culture, like war, psychoanalysis and revolutionary theory,” said Bradley Nickels, a USF art history professor who will be the featured lecturer during the Sept. 27 session.

Organizers expect that it will shed new light on Europe’s avant-garde movements for all USF students and members of the community who plan to attend.

“I hope that people will realize that many commonplace themes in visual culture today were created by the avant-garde during the past century or so,” Nickels said.

Peter Kalliney, assistant professor of English at USF’s St. Petersburg campus, is co-coordinating the series.

“Many people find the arts, and particularly modern painting, intimidating. The series should serve as a useful introduction to a wide range of modern movements in the arts. This interactive, experiential approach to learning is not something (students) will get in many college classes,” Kalliney said. “The series is (also) designed to strengthen the relationship between USF St. Petersburg and the museum.”

The Avant-Garde lecture series is open to the public and free of charge. It is sponsored by the Florida Humanities Council, National Endowment for the Humanities, the Salvador Dalí Museum and USF St. Petersburg. The series will be held at the Dalí museum and will run through Dec. 13.