Published on December 10th, 2021 | by University Communications


University Ministry speaker examines Catholic art of Salvador Dali

University Ministry hosted “The Catholic Art of Salvador Dalí” on December 6, which was presented by Father Robert Keffer, OSB, and held in TECO Hall at University Campus.

Keffer is a Benedictine monk, contemporary painter, and art lecturer visiting Saint Leo from Saint Vincent Archabbey in Latrobe, PA. He has been visiting Saint Leo Abbey this Fall Semester to conduct research at the Salvador Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, FL. He plans to continue building on his research to eventually write a book on the religious masterworks of Dalí.

He studied art at the former Ivy Institute of Art in Pittsburgh, the American Academy of Art in Chicago, and the Studio Incamminati in Philadelphia. He studied philosophy and theology at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland, Saint John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota, and at the Angelicum in Rome, Italy.

“Father Keffer led students in reflecting on some of Dalí’s religious paintings as an avenue to meditation and prayer, the idea of visio divina as a complement to lectio divina, that is, that just as we use written and spoken word as an avenue to prayer, we also can use the visual idiom of great works of art in company with our faculty of imagination as a prompt for meditation and prayer,” said Father Randall Meissen, university chaplain.

Keffer also touched on some of the personal influences in Dali’s life, from his departure from Spain during the civil war and World War II, to his inclusion of his wife in artworks, to his later life conversion to placing greater emphasis on his faith.

“Some of the works we explored were the famed Dalí works including The Persistence of Memory, commonly called “the melting clocks;” the surrealistic depiction of the Crucifixion, Christ of Saint John of the Cross; the depiction of Jesus feeding the masses with bread and fish, called Eucharistic Still Life; and his vivid painting The Sacrament of the Last Supper,” Meissen said. 


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