Saturday, September 11, 2010

Dali: The Paintings

My latest reading is heavy. Before my visit to the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, which latest temporary exhibition features Dali, I started to read the book produced by Robert Descharnes and Gilles Neret. "Dali: The Paintings."

Composed of two volumes, Part I (1904 till 1946) and Part II ( 1946 till 1989), it includes 1648 illustrations and tells the great story of Dali. It contains extensive quotes from Dali's "Secret Life". The book is full of anecdotes which allow us to understand the complex human being and his conflicts.
The reporting of everyday events, like the story of his inspiration for the "Soft Watches" (the idea struck Dali one evening after eating camembert for dinner), never becomes mundane. We learn about Dali's anxieties, including his difficult relationships with women. His first meeting with Gala, who became is wife, is touching, and like any love story is unique. A detailed account of Dali's life including his relationship with his father, his friends, his financial difficulties and more, helps the reader understand the complexity of the man and the artist who was often called a genius and often misunderstood (he enjoyed both).
The reader can follow the maturation of the artist through his different periods, presented in the context of the art movements of the time with the history of his life in the background.
The book is also an extensive compilation (not a catalogue raisonne) of the artist's works with enlightening comments from the authors.

Some of the quotes from Dali's Secret Life :

" As a child I adored that noble prestige of old people, and I would have given all my body to become like them, to grow old immediately! I was the anti-Faust. Wretched was he who, having acquired the supreme science of old age, sold his soul to unwrinkle his brow and recapture the unconscious youth of his flesh! Let the labyrinth of wrinkles be furrowed in my brow with the red-hot iron of my own life, let my hair whiten and my step become vacillating, on the condition that I can save the intelligence of my soul."

"One day it will have to be officially admitted that what we christened reality is an even greater illusion than the world of dreams."

And many more...

Dali was looking for eternity...his work is timeless.

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