Dali, the famous surrealist artist of the twentieth century, was also passionately interested in the world around him, including topics such as quantum physics, biology and mathematics. He was particularly fascinated by the helix and, more especially, the double helix of DNA.
The shape features in a number of his paintings, including, probably most famously, the lengthily named Galacidalacidesoxiribunucleicacid. Dali commented on the length of the title, but remarked that the theme of “the genetical persistence of human memory” was even longer. He appears to use the helix as a symbol of God and creation.
In 2011, a purpose-built museum opened to house the existing collection of Dali works in St Petersburg, Florida. The building and grounds recognise Dali’s fascination with the helix.
The first example of this is the stunning free-standing spiral staircase inside the museum. How can you not accept this grand invitation to explore the upper galleries?
The second is a Fibonacci spiral that is built into the paved area of the garden outside. The Fibonacci numbers (1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34,55,89,…), where each number equals the sum of the two previous numbers, produces beautiful spirals that are demonstrated in nature in such things as sea shells or an uncurling fern.
In the gardens here, rectangles representing the Fibonacci numbers have been created in different coloured stones and a silver spiral twines itself around the corners of these squares.
For more on this spectacular museum, see I Dillied and I Dali-ed.
For an excellent program on Dali, his works and his influence outside the art world watch the following Youtube clip of a BBC documentary (56 minutes)