“The only difference between the Surrealists and me is that I am a surrealist.”
Where does one start in the pursuit to tell the story of such a powerful, seemingly mythological artist as Salvador Dali? I suppose we could start at the beginning on May 11th, 1904 in Figueras, a small town in the province of Girona (or the more popular English spelling) Gerona, Spain where Dali was born. We could begin the story somewhere in the middle when Dali became known to some as “you know, that guy who painted the melting clocks?” To be accurate, they’re referring to “The Persistence of Memory,” one of Dali’s easily recognizable works. We could even start the story in true surrealist fashion and just jump all over the place from beginning to end. That’s it! We shall jump all over the place…together!
You may have heard of Salvador Dali. You may be familiar with his work. Maybe, just maybe you’ve been living under a rock and have never heard of what the hell I’m talking about here. Maybe you wrote a thesis on him back in the day. Whatever your level of love or knowledge happens to be toward the man, I would like to shed some light on his extraordinary power and ability to practically transcend time and space with his work.
“I do not take drugs. I am drugs!”
I would like to take this opportunity to pay a well-deserved homage to the Master of Surrealism. I’d like to start this Tribute to the Masters Series with a bang, and I certainly can not think of a better way to jumpstart it than with a feature on the one, the only, Senor Salvador Dali. This innaugural feature will hopefully ignite an art-filled, worldwide conversation. Where does Dali rank among The Masters? Where does he take a conversation, a museum, a movement? Well, I can’t remember the last time I had a conversation about art without Salvador Dali’s name coming up somewhere along the line. He is absolutely a master of his craft, a timeless artist who will be forever associated with the Surrealist Movement, the same way Jean Paul Sartre is associated with the philosophical Existentialist Movement. It should be noted that Dali worked in many, many other genres as well. As far as the movement goes, I’ll let the man speak for himself, since he is almost equally known for his words as he is for his work: “Surrealism is destructive, but it destroys only what it considers to be shackles limiting our vision.”
So what is the vision he speaks of so eloquently? Is it a universal vision? Is the vision exclusive to the arts community? Do these visionary ramblings bring us closer to his world? Does abstract thought and surreal subconscious subdue everyone until they recognize art? Doesn’t this thought process unite us in itself? Maybe it’s ironically all just a paradoxical enigma blanketed by a beach ball sized catch 22. What I love about Dali though is probably the same thing that some hate: the universal appreciation teetering on “mainstream.” The art of self promotion and outright confidence is what separates Dali from the rest of the field. For instance: “Every morning when I wake up, I experience an exquisite joy-the joy of being Salvador Dali-and I ask myself in rapture: What wonderful things is this Salvador Dali going to accomplish today?” What he will accomplish is still an open-ended question, but the fact that the question is out there, floating in the Ether? Well that is the true victory for us all.
Museum opportunity watch: The Dali Museum can be found in his hometown of Figueras. He decided to create his museum here on the ruins of the former Municipal Theatre which was destroyed at the end of the Spanish Civil War. You can also check out his work locally in the new modern wing at our very own Art Institute. The other Dali Museum can be found in St. Petersburg, Florida. It is set for renovation and reopening this year.
Next up in our Tribute to the Masters: The Immortal Diego Rivera