Dali's gift to exorcist uncovered

An art expert has uncovered a sculpture of Christ on the Cross he claims Salvador Dali made to thank an Italian friar who exorcised him

The Italian ANSA news agency reports that Armando Ginesi found the piece, measuring 60cm by 30cm, among the personal belongings of Gabriele Maria Berardi, a friar who died in 1984, in a storeroom in Rome.

He has shown the work to two Spanish experts on the Surrealist artist. They agreed that there are "sufficient stylistic reasons" to believe it was made by Dali.

According to Ginesi, Berardi told friends and relatives he exorcised Dali of a demon in 1947 during a spell in France. At the time Berardi had temporarily been suspended from his Italian religious order - apparently for failing to honour financial commitments. He did a variety of jobs, but continued to perform religious rites, including exorcisms.

The reported exorcism took place during a period in which Dali had broken away from Surrealism and started producing more realistic works, often with religious imagery.

Dali's sculpture of Christ on the Cross is a symbol of "piety filtered by a sense of the paradoxical," Ginesi explained. "While the figure portrays the death and suffering that came before, the light colour of Jesus (which stands out on the dark brown cross) seems to allude to life and something positive."

ANSA says Dali may have given Berardi the sculpture in France following the friar's intervention or possibly later, during a visit to Italy, after Berardi had been readmitted to his order. The revelation of the exorcism presents a new twist in the life story of one of the 20th century's most eccentric and fascinating personalities. The artist had a tumultuous life. He was expelled from Art School, for example, for refusing to sit an exam on Raphael, on the grounds that he knew more about the subject than his teachers did.

He also had poor relations with the rest of the Surrealist movement, which threw him out for greed, ambivalence towards Fascism and a flamboyance that sometimes overshadowed his art. The sculpture of Christ belongs to the charity Berardi founded, Associazione fra i Volontari della Carita', which intends to sell the piece to finance good works.

Dali's gift to exorcist uncovered (ANSA.it 12/10/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Salvador Dali (answers.com)

Dali sculpture found in Rome (The Universe 13/10/05)
First day of school for aspiring Vatican exorcists (Leading the Charge 13/10/05)

14 Oct 2005