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Surreal row over Dali painting

Published on 20/05/2004

20 May 2004

BARCELONA – A controversial painting by eccentric Spanish surrealist Salvador Dalí was at the centre of a tug-of-war between Catalan separatists and a major Madrid museum, it was reported Thursday.

The separatist Catalan Republican Left party is claiming that The Great Masturbator should never have left Dalí’s home town of Figueras, in Catalonia, in north-east Spain, for the walls of Madrid’s Reina Sofia museum, Britain’s Guardian newspaper reported.

The Catalan separatists want the picture sent to the Dalí Museum in Figueras, a building topped by giant eggs.

Fransesc Canet, a Catalan Republican Left deputy in the Madrid parliament, formally asked the new Socialist government of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero if it was prepared to return the picture.

“Dalí said, both in writing and to friends and to the mayor of Figueras, that he wanted this and other pictures to hang in his museum in Figueras,” said Canet, who comes from the town.

“One of our election pledges was that we would try to get the picture back to Figueras, where Dalí himself wanted it to be,” he added.

“As this year is his centenary, this is the right time to ask.”

The Great Masturbator, painted in 1929, is considered to be a surreal depiction of Dalí’s personal obsession with sex, castration, impotence and masturbation.

Catalan nationalists were upset when it turned out that Dalí had decided to leave his works to Spain as a whole rather than to the regional government of Catalonia after his death in 1989.

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Subject: Spanish news