Dalí and Freud at the Belvedere - An Obsession

More+More+ ♦ Published: February 28, 2022; 22:22 ♦ (Vindobona)

Salvador Dalí and Sigmund Freud: one man's art, another man's theories. The theories of Freud clearly fascinated Dalí, perhaps to the point of obsession – his greatest desire was to someday meet his idol. With this exhibition the Lower Belvedere celebrates its reopening.

Salvador Dali with his pet ocelot, Babou, and cane in 1965. / Picture: © Wikimedia Commons / Roger Higgins, World Telegram staff photographer, Public Domain

He made multiple unsuccessful attempts at contact, including a trip to Vienna in April 1937 that also failed to produce an introduction.

Finally, at the urging of Austrian writer Stefan Zweig and the poet Edward James, Freud agreed to a meeting in London in July 1938.

This comprehensive exhibition illustrates the obsession for the psychoanalytical in the work of the Surrealists, particularly as it is present in Dali's surrealist pictorial world.

In London in 1938 Salvador Dalí finally met Sigmund Freud, who had recently fled Vienna – the first and only meeting between the artist and his idol.

Unfortunately, however, Dalí's ambitious wish to garner Freud's endorsement for his Paranoiac Critical method remained unfulfilled. Yet the founder of psychoanalysis was subsequently much more impressed than he had expected to be, and came to reconsider his earlier ambivalence towards Surrealism.

The Belvedere is showcasing – with over 100 pieces including paintings, surrealist objects, photographs, films, books, journals, letters, and other documents – Dalí's unique personality against the backdrop of his complex family and follows him from his discovery of Freud's writings to his meeting with the psychoanalyst in exile in London on 19 July 1938.

For the young artist, reading the Interpretation of Dreams became one of the most significant discoveries of his life.

In Freud's writings Dalí found the key to hidden fears, desires, and obsessions.

This led him to explore the poetics of Surrealism in 1926 and to develop a new visual language that remains, to this day, unique to his work.

Dalí’s meeting in London was his only in-person encounter with the Viennese psychoanalyst.

The exhibition also relates the artist's seminal encounters with the poet Federico García Lorca and the filmmaker Luis Buñuel, as well as his time at the Residencia de Estudiantes in Madrid.

Along with the drawings of nervous tissues by the histologist and Nobel Prize–winner Santiago Ramón y Cajal, they were Dalí's principal inspirations for his Surrealist work.

The part of the show that focuses on the artist's family background highlights how Dalí’s intense psychoanalytical exploration of his complex adolescence shaped his paintings.


The exhibition was already planned for fall 2020 before the pandemic threw the program into disarray.

Now, the first show at the reopened Lower Belvedere marks the start of a Viennese art year.

The former summer residence of Prince Eugene on Rennweg, an imposing part of the Belvedere's Baroque palace annex, is reopening its magnificent doors to museum visitors after a general overhaul.

Completed in 1716, the building with its magnificent state rooms has been brought up to the latest international museum standards. The establishment of a café and the renovation and improvement of accessibility and technology guarantee a museum experience of the highest standard.

About Salvador Dalí

Salvador Felipe Jacinto Dalí i Domènech was a Spanish painter, writer, graphic artist and sculptor.

He was one of the main representatives of surrealism and was one of the most famous painters of the last century.

His personal style was the world of the unconscious that appears in dreams. Melting clocks, crutches and burning giraffes became identifying features in his painting.

His technical skill allowed him to paint his canvases in a so-called Old Master style, similar to the later Photorealism.


Lower Belvedere
Rennweg 6
1030 Vienna

Opening Hours and Entry
Monday to Sunday 10 am - 6 pm

Until 29 May 2022

Exhibition at Lower Belvedere: Dalí Freud - An Obsession