SALVADOR DALÍ (Spanish) (1904 – 1989)
At Art School in Madrid the most notorious of all the surrealists displayed a precocious dexterity in his studies. He had a genuine gift for the manipulation of imagery and when he went to Paris in 1928 and Míro presented him to the surrealists he quietly established himself as the dazzling newcomer from whom everything could be expected. As a student he was influenced by Freud, which made him interpret not only his dreams but everything that happened to him. He took surrealism still further to simulate a form of ‘reasoning madness’ by which he could explore hidden meanings behind its common place appearances. In the ‘Persistence of Memory’ (1931) the idea of melting watches occurred to him when he was eating ripe Camembert cheese. Many have seen in it a fear of impotence. (Whatever may be the interpretation the inescapable fact is that its jewel-like finish and extraordinary draftmanship reminds one of great Italian masters. Dalí himself was a great admirer of Da Vinci.) Just as he was quick to be identified with the surrealism he dissociated from it in 1938. He had turned to classicism discribing his change of direction as a ‘religious Renaissance based on a progressive Catholicism’. Equally fluent in words as in paintings Dalí contributed much to his popular image as a personality – as well as an artist – of considerable controversy. As André Breton put it, the time came when Dalí could not tell the sound of his own voice from the creak of his patent-leather shoes.
In retro: He was the only artist who could understand Theory of Relativity, in all probability more than Einstein himself. Einstein of course wasn’t an artist. This Spaniard was a genius. A genius these days has to sell himself as a product. As in the case of Salvador he played a mountebank, a clown with his waxed moustache, patent leather shoes and toadies. This is what is called dillyDalíing.