Saturday, February 24, 2007

Surrealist DNA

Salvador Dali left no descendants, but forensic scientist Michael Rieders found the artist's DNA on a pair of nasal feeding tubes used during a 1984 hospitalization. They had been preserved by "two of Dali's closest friends."

"I'm not 100% sure why [they kept them]," said Dr Rieders, a toxicologist and lab director at NMS Labs in Willow Grove, Philadelphia, "but I now had an artefact that I was reasonably sure would contain some of Dali's DNA."
And why would a scientist want Dali's DNA? To test it for signs of genius (and/or madness), and to authenticate works attributed to him.
"We now have the art world very interested in using this Dali DNA reference as a way of looking to see if some of the other objects and artwork out there could perhaps be Dali's."

One piece in particular, a small watercolour called The Snail and the Angel, has a brown stain on it that is supposedly Dali's semen. The authenticity of that painting is not in doubt, but Dr Rieders thinks it would be a good place to start to try out the DNA fingerprint. [Link]

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