Salvador Dali stands for many things. To youngsters just starting to learn about art, he’s famous for painting floppy clocks (The Persistence of Memory is that famous 1931 painting’s actual name) and having an incredible moustache. To art critics, he is the master of surrealism. To cultural critics, Dali’s work was overshadowed by his eccentric and over-bearing personality. To many Spaniards, he aligned himself too closely to General Franco’s authoritarian regime. George Orwell called him “a disgusting human being” but Dali (1904-1989) could never be called dull.
Amid all these varying opinions, one thing is clear and that’s the tremendous impact of Dali’s art. The Spanish artist produced more than 1,500 paintings, illustrated many books, created many lithographs, designed theatre sets and costumes, sculpted, took photographs, wrote a novel called Hidden Faces and worked in film with the likes of Alfred Hitchcock, Luis Buńuel and Disney. He refused to be limited to a single medium.
Today, collectors regularly pay handsome sums for copies of Dali’s most collectable books such his famous cookery book, Les Diners de Gala, and his acclaimed illustrated edition of Dante’s Divine Comedy with 100 woodcuts. Dozens of books have attempted to analyse his art and biographers have been intrigued by his personality as much as his artistic work.