Salvador Dalí’s Western Wall

November 19, 2020 | Menachem Wecker
About the author: Menachem Wecker, a freelance journalist based in Washington DC, covers art, culture, religion, and education for a variety of publications.

Today, a painting by Salvador Dalí depicting figures at prayer at the Western Wall is being auctioned to raise money for a charitable foundation. While the surrealist painter had been accused of harboring Nazi sympathies in the 1930s and 40s, he would later create a series of artworks on Jewish themes, including his bronze Peace Menorah which stands at Ben-Gurion airport. Menachem Wecker comments on the work:

I’ve written extensively on Jewish art for nearly twenty years, but this religious picture of Dalí’s is new to me. I am familiar with other religious works, particularly Dalí’s mysterious The Sacrament of the Last Supper (1955) at the National Gallery of Art.

“O you, people of Israel, chosen people, sons of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. For your devotion to upholding traditions, for the joy with which you celebrate and sanctify your festivities, I created this ‘Peace Menorah’ and this painting of the ‘Western Wall,’” Dalí said, in an inscription on [the] bronze Menorah. . . . “While with your unshakeable faith you pray for the glory of your ancestors and for the triumph of truth, I want you to see in the radiation of these bright and cheerful lights, a tribute to your people.”

In difficult-to-decipher handwriting, Dalí painted Barukh Hashem, “Blessed is God’s name,” in Hebrew script on the Western Wall, and this is Dalí’s lone work depicting a sacred site.

The auction house doesn’t mention it, but Dalí’s vision here aligns—in likely unintended ways—with some Zionist representations of the Western Wall, or Kotel, which deliberately edit out the Dome of the Rock.

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