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April 11, 2016 1:03 pm

Little-Known Zionist Series by Salvador Dalí Goes On Private Display in New York

avatar by Lea Speyer

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A selection of paintings from Salvador Dalí’s "Aliyah" series on private display by New York art dealer Hillel Philip. Photo: Hillel Philip.

A selection of paintings from Salvador Dalí’s “Aliyah” series on private display by New York art dealer Hillel Philip. Photo: Hillel Philip.

A series of biblical and Zionist-themed paintings by Salvador Dalí has gone on private display in the heart of New York City in an effort to showcase through art the historical connection of the Jewish people to the land of Israel, the collection’s owner told The Algemeiner.

Art dealer Hillel Philip, who owns one of 250 sets of prints of Dalí’s little-known “Aliyah, the Rebirth of Israel” series, told The Algemeiner, “You have all of Jewish history, all the dreams of the Jews for 2,000 years, in these paintings.”

The paintings were commissioned by Shorewood Publishers in 1967 for the 20th anniversary of the state of Israel. The set is comprised of 25 mixed-media paintings highlighting important religious, historic and political moments in Jewish history. The series received a special endorsement from Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion.

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“The distinguished artist Salvador Dalí has succeeded through the power of his great artistry in embodying in a number of prints the marvel of aliyah, which in a short time fashioned a renewed people, a renewed country and a renewed — as well as renewing — state,” Ben-Gurion wrote in a letter on display with the collection. Shorewood exhibited the original series in a New York museum, but each piece was eventually sold to private collectors. Their locations remain unknown to this day.

Philip told The Algemeiner that a large number of the roughly 300 people — including top art collectors, Jewish leaders and political officials — who came to view “Dalí’s Israel: From Past to Present” expressed their marvel over the artist’s connection to Judaism. “Many people have said to me, ‘I didn’t know Dalí was Jewish.’ I would tell them that no, he wasn’t Jewish and everyone would respond, ‘But I’ve never heard of Dalí doing something like this.’ Everyone just loved it. They are blown away that he did such a thing,” Philip said.

Philip organized the series into five themes: the covenant between God and the Jewish people, embracing life despite tragedies in Jewish history, war, aliyah and the founding of modern Israel. “A lot of Jews have something that connects them to Israel, whether it be the land, technology, history or culture. That’s why the whole series together shows the dreams of the Jewish people,” said Philip. 

Each painting is accompanied by a biblical verse originally ascribed to each work by the artist. According to the website of the Salvador Dalí Foundation, “In order to illustrate the various meanings of the Hebrew word aliyah, which means literally ‘migration to the land of Israel,’ the artist took inspiration from the Old Testament as well as contemporary history.”

The verse for the painting entitled “Covenant Eternal: Circumcision,” for example, is taken from Deuteronomy 30:9: “This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.”

Dali covenant eternal circumcision

The “Covenant Eternal: Circumcision” painting, part of the “Aliyah” series by Salvador Dalí. Photo: TIJS at Emory University.

In one of several paintings in the series that depicts the Holocaust, the artist quotes Psalms 88:7 — “Thou hast laid me in the nethermost pit, in dark place, in the deeps.”

dali holocaust

The “Thou hast laid me” painting, part of the “Aliyah” series by Salvador Dalí. Photo: TIJS at Emory University.

Philip called Dalí’s ability to connect so intimately to Jewish history “fascinating.”

“Here is an example of a world-renowned artist who is not Jewish and was able to understand the Jewish connection so well. Although he was a brilliant guy, Dalí’s Jewish education is probably equal to that of most American Jews today, or even less,” Philip claimed. “It is quite incredible that he was able to depict such an amazing and deep understanding of Jewish history and is something we can learn from, too.” 

Philip noted that, according to some scholars, Dalí “was an antisemite, due to his involvement with Franco in Spain, who collaborated with Hitler. It’s my understanding that in the end, Dalí bet on the right horse, so to speak, on the Jews, when he saw in the 1960s biblical prophecies coming to life. Israel came into existence, the Jews were victorious and he decided to ‘change sides.'”

Calling Dalí’s series “a representation of the legitimacy of the Jews and their right to Israel,” Philip, who is Jewish, said he had decided to exhibit it “to remind the world, especially the Jews, that we belong in Israel and, more importantly, that the land belongs to us.” 

As Israel faces an ongoing terror wave, he said, “It is important to defend and support it during a time of crisis.”

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  • Risa Gettler

    I live in Southern California. I am curious if this exhibit will be traveling and if so whether it will exhibiting in the West coast

  • Linda Rich

    I would be very interested in seeing this collection. Please let me know how I would be able to do so..

    Thank you!

  • David Blumenthal

    In response to the large number of comments, I have revised the website that sets forth the history of “Aliyah, the Rebirth of Israel” at

    http://www.js.emory.edu/BLUMENTHAL/Salvador%20Dali%20Aliyah.htm

    Readers are also invited to contact me at

    reldrb@emory.edu

    (Sorry don’t know how to embed the links.)

  • Anne Trieber

    Is there any possibilty that the Mr. Hillel would show this collection to the public at The Jewish Museum in New York?

  • Guilherme

    No wonder they are little-known. Looks like very uninspired work from an artist who could do so much better.

  • Richard Blau

    How can I reach Hillel Philip? I have an interesting piece that is a part of the original showing of these works.

  • Barbara tamerin

    Please send me info
    Thanks
    B tamerin
    917 297 4519

  • Interestingly, I saw all of these paintings in the main lobby of Shaare Tzedek Hospital in Jerusalem in January of this year, 2016.

    They appeared to be the originals and there was a sign on the wall talking about the paintings and their history.

    Not sure if they are still there. They were indeed beautiful and intense paintings.

    • Yes, they still are at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem. Donated by Francine Gani

      • Ilene Sokoloff

        Is this the wonderful Francine Gani in Silicon Valley?

    • Lyndell

      These sketches or paintings don’t seem to be the style of Dali. They are quite lacking in colour and imagination.

      • Anne Trieber

        You have to see the entire collection, then you can change your mind about colour and imagination. It is very intense!

  • Frank

    Will it go on public display in near future

  • ALIZA

    How does a friend of mine who may have print connected to this series get in touch with Hillel Philip?

    • Anne Trieber

      I have one of these prints. I would be interested to know its value.

  • ALIZA

    How do I get in touch with Hillel Philip? I know someone who has a print that may be connected to this series.

  • Robin

    I have a signed and numbered lithograph of the first in this series entitled Aliyah. It was left to me by my parents. I have always wondered about the value. I will be in New York in early June and would love to the entire series.

  • Jon Levine

    Hi,

    I am the owner of Dali’s Aliyah ORIGINAL piece. Its going to auction at Sotheby’s New York on May 10th, please feel free to contact me with any information.

  • Shelley Wiesner

    What an incredible exhibit! Is it possible to view in person? I live in NJ and would love to come in and see it

    Thanks,
    S Wiesner

  • Matt B

    Where is the exhibit ?Would like to see it !

  • Lindsey

    This is incredible. Are any of them going to be displayed publicly?? I would love love love to see them!

  • Alan J Weberman

    Dali was a fan of my work. This exhibit should be open to the public.

  • Lea Speyer, You didn’t report on where the public can see the artwork?

  • forgot to include the website. You are free to add it as a postscript to your article.

  • David Blumenthal

    Dear Ms. Speyer,
    I’d like to be in touch with Mr. Philip. I’d like him to know that he is free to use the material on my website. Do you have an email for him? Or, would you please forward my email to him?
    Thank you, David Blumenthal

  • Dani

    Dali was a very educated artist, he did this work for money more than love.

  • Martin

    Any opportunity for public viewing?

  • Richard E Sherwin

    this allegemeiner glimpse is INCREDIBLE, well not incredible since it’s a fact, real, but rather ASTONISHING! i didnt think before ANY artist had done such profoundly moving and sympathetic work about israel. Bless whoever asked and paid for him to do so. Forget whatever may have been his political surface or skin or ambience. His humanity radiates in his art. I would like to think his growing up Christian might have had something to do with this capacity to live our reality as it overlapped his. Although probably totally irrelevant, has anyone any knowledge of some equivalent socialist or communist artist trying, let alone succeeding, in a similar attempt?

  • jacob

    Why is it Unknown?
    Because most Goyim and some influent Jews love to remain ignorant…

  • Linda

    Could Dali have a Jewish history somewhere in his family’s origins?

    • Edna

      It is strongly believed that Dali’s mother is of Jewish descent.

      He was very close to her, and never got over her death which occurred when he was 16 yrs old.

  • “Meltin’ Menorahs!” Oi, Vey!!!

  • Linda

    My esteem for Dali as a remarkable artist has gone up. Thank you for mounting this exhibition, I was completely taken by surprise.

  • glenda urmacher

    I have the print of Aiyah with Hillel in the photo in Algemeiner .
    It was from the Museum of Modern Art, 1968 exhibit of 25 such works.
    Is it valuable? Not that it maters.
    I never found a place to hang it, but married to a Holocaust survivor for 54 years, who got
    to Israel on Exodus 47, I had to get it.

  • Batyah

    Astonishing! THIS work of Dali’s I can relate to!!! Can anyone tell me where and how the “Aliyah, the Rebirth of Israel” reproductions can be seen?

  • a yid

    hel-lo Dali, hel-lo Dali, it’s so nice to have you back where you belong

  • Dr. Esther Gitman

    Most exciting I would like to be one of your visitors. I’m one of the Holocaust survivors

    Thank you,

    Esther Gitman

  • My son (may he rest in peace), was huge fan of Dahi, had a book of Dahli’s paintings. The one that still stands out in my mind is one that is horrendous, I think it is called the skull. It is simply skulls within skulls within skulls. Also depicting the Holocaust.

  • Yochanan Aaron Kalfa

    I recently discovered there is an original Dali sculpture depicting a Menorah just hanging out outside the international terminal at Ben Gurion airport

  • Tema

    Where is this exhibit? Address please.

  • E. J. Campfield

    You should correct the second graph in this story — there are only 25 prints in the Aliyah set rather than 250 as in the story typo.

  • “Old Testament” is a depreciatory term, implying that the Hebrew scriptures are antiquated because they’ve been superseded by the “New Testament.” It is a term that should not be used by anyone tolerant of diversity.

    • Guilherme

      The traditional Christian name of the Old Testament should not be frowned upon by anyone tolerant of diversity.

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