The Ecumenical Council
Oil on canvas
Image: 118 in x 100 in
Gift of A. Reynolds & Eleanor Morse
Worldwide rights ©Salvador Dalí. Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí (Artists Rights Society), 2017 / In the USA ©Salvador Dalí Museum, Inc. St. Petersburg, FL 2017.
This canvas honors Pope John XXIII for trying to unite the churches through the Ecumenical Council. The coronation of Pope John XXIII is depicted in an omniscient vision. It appears four times with three views in the center, and one in the upper right hand corner which was formed by pressing an octopus onto the canvas. Along the bottom of the canvas, the self-portrait of Dalí recalls a pose assumed by Velazquez, thus another acknowledgment of the Spanish painter. Gala is depicted in the manner of Michelangelo's Moses, but she also represents St. Helena as Dalí has revealed in another work entitled St. Helena of Port Lligat. St. Helena was the mother of Emperor Constantine; her emblem in art is the cross. According to the legend, Constantine had a prophetic dream in which an angel with a cross appeared and told him "under this sign you will be victorious." Perhaps Gala's appearance in this painting as St. Helena is a tribute to her unwavering faith, inspiration, and guidance which led Dalí to victory.
The painter's continuing obsession with molecular particles is demonstrated by the zigzag elements used to depict the robes of Christ, the first figure of the Trinity, on the left. The outstretched hand and arm of God (the central figure) prevent man from seeing this face. The third figure, the Holy Spirit, is represented by the dove and the disappearing figure. A nearly perfect "X" sets up the structure for this work, which is divided into four equal triangles. The "X" division is made apparent by the cross in Christ’s hand. Again a view of the coastline near Dalí’s house can be seen behind Dalí’s self-portrait.
1960, New York, Carstairs Gallery, “Salvador Dali”
1964, Kyoto, Municipal Art Gallery, “Salvador Dalí, 1964”
1964, Nagoya, Prefectural Museum of Art, “Salvador Dalí, 1964”
1964, Tokyo, Hotel Prince Gallery, “Salvador Dalí, 1964”
1965, New York, Gallery of Modern Art, “Salvador Dalí, 1910-1965”
1999, Fukuoka, Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, "Dali Exhibition 1999"
1999, Shinjuku(Tokyo), Mitsukoshi Museum of Art, "Dali Exhibition 1999"
2006, Tokyo, Ueno Royal Museum, “Dalí Centennial Retrospective”
2007, St. Petersburg, Fl., Salvador Dalí Museum, “Dalí and the Spanish Baroque”
2009, Melbourne, National Gallery of Victoria, "Salvador Dalí : Liquid Desire"
2010, Atlanta, High Museum of Art, “Salvador Dalí: The Late Work”
2018, Barcelona, Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, "Gala Dalí"