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The Shameful Life of Salvador Dali

Gibson, Ian

136 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0571167519 / ISBN 13: 9780571167517
Published by Faber & Faber, 1997
Condition: Very Good Hardcover
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first edition. dust jacket in brodart wraps. edge and corner wear, a couple of tears to dust jacket. bottom corners of boards bumped. text is clean. binding tight. Bookseller Inventory # 024826

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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Shameful Life of Salvador Dali

Publisher: Faber & Faber

Publication Date: 1997

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Very Good

Dust Jacket Condition: Good

Edition: First Edition

About this title


This biography argues that Salvador Dali lived a "shameful" life in every way: that underlying his exhibitionism was an intense feeling of shame, the individual hanging his head being one of the recurrent themes of his painting. Based on extensive original research and recently discovered sources, as well as an interview with Dali himself, the book presents a portrait of a disjointed character. Ian Gibson emphasizes the literary side of Dali's career and re-examines the two principal relationships of his life - with Federico Garcia Lorca, and with the libidinous Gala.


Ian Gibson's fascinating portrait of Salvador Dali depicts an artist whose life is as fragmented as his paintings. Perhaps surprisingly, Gibson argues that an intense sense of shame was the driving force in the surrealist's life and art, steering him between leaps of creative invention and personal ruin. With access to previously unknown biographical details, Gibson concludes that Dali's shame centred around sexual conflict, particularly in his relationships with his muse Gala and his friend Garcia Lorca. In lieu of the sexual act, Dali cultivated a deeply exhibitionist persona and used his art as protection against the shame he associated with sex. As his fame grew so did his need to hide behind his extravagance; the sense of shame is directed outward rather than inward as a result. In the process, Dali betrayed his family, many of his artistic mentors, and in the end his own art.

Colour reproductions of Dali's work illustrate the conflicts playing out in the artist's history and mind, and while Gibson cannot fully explain the origins of Dali's genius and where the artist's true motivations originate, his argument is compelling and reveals a great deal about the tragic and brillant painter. --Aaron Abrams

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