ISTANBUL (AFP) - The largest Salvador Dali exhibition outside Spain opens Saturday in Istanbul with 269 works by the Catalan surrealist and photos, movies and manuscripts shedding light on his life and artistic journey. Selected by the Gala-Salvador Dali Foundation, based in Figueras, Spain, the 33 paintings, 113 drawings, 111 engravings and 12 lithographs will be on display until January 20 at the private Sakip Sabanci Museum (SSM), housed in a sprawling Ottoman mansion on the banks of the Bosphorus. The collection presents a retrospective retracing Dali's artistic journey " from his first canvasses depicting the Catalan countryside of Figueras, where he was born in 1904 and died in 1989. It also figures the ultimate homages he paid at the end of a 60-year career to his idols, Velazquez and Michelangelo. Arranged in a didactic fashion, the exhibition includes several pieces rarely seen in public, the organisers said. "For the first time, it will be possible to see that many illustrations by Dali on several selected passages from Don Quixote and Dante's Divine Comedy," SSM director Nazan Olcer said. Curator Montse Aguer Teixidor said: "I'm very proud of the installation. I think it's elegant, sober but baroque at the same time. "We have in a way transported to Istanbul the atmosphere of the theatre-museum" which Dali founded in Figueras and which today is run by the foundation. Organising a Dali exhibition in Turkey, where the artist and the surrealism movement are relatively little known, was a challenge, Aguer Teixidor said. "We have given many keys to open the visitor's eyes... to imagination, creativity and provocation," she said. The Gala-Salvador Dali Foundation was established in 1983 by Dali to promote and protect his heritage. It keeps nearly 4,000 of his works in a collection unequalled in the world. The SSM museum, founded in 2002 by one of Turkey's largest business groups, Sabanci, has already held exhibitions of Pablo Picasso's paintings in 2005 and sculptures by Auguste Rodin a year later. Holding a rich collection of Islamic and Ottoman calligraphy, its exhibitions alternate between Oriental art " including more recently "Genghis Khan" and "Istanbul, Isfahan, Delhi", a display of Islamic art masterpieces from the Louvres " and the works of major Western artists. The museum's Picasso exhibition in 2005-2006 attracted the largest number of visitors so far in Turkey " 258,000 people " a record it hopes to surpass with the Dali show.