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The Secret Life of Salvador Dalí (Dover Fine Art, History of Art) Paperback – March 3, 1993
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Original Language: French
From the Back Cover
Painter, designer, and filmmaker Salvador Dalí (1904–1989) was one of the most colorful and controversial figures in twentieth-century art. A pioneer of Surrealism, he was both praised and reviled for the subconscious imagery he projected into his paintings, which he sometimes referred to as "hand-painted dream photographs."
This early autobiography, which takes him through his late thirties, is as startling and unpredictable as his art. It is superbly illustrated with over 80 photographs of Dalí and his works, and scores of Dalí drawings and sketches. On its first publication, the reviewer of Books observed: "It is impossible not to admire this painter as writer. As a whole, he . . . communicates the snobbishness, self-adoration, comedy, seriousness, fanaticism, in short the concept of life and the total picture of himself he sets out to portray."
Dalí's flamboyant self-portrait begins with his earliest recollections and ends at the pinnacle of his earliest successes. His tantalizing chapter titles and headnotes—among them "Intra-Uterine Memories," "Apprenticeship to Glory," "Permanent Expulsion from the School of Fine Arts," "Dandyism and Prison," "I am Disowned by my Family," "My Participation and my Position in the Surrealist Revolution," and "Discovery of the Apparatus for Photographing Thought"—only hint at the compelling revelations to come.
Here are fascinating glimpses of the brilliant, ambitious, and relentlessly self-promoting artist who designed theater sets, shop interiors, and jewelry as readily as he made surrealistic paintings and films. Here is the mind that could envision and create with great technical virtuosity images of serene Raphaelesque beauty one moment and nightmarish landscapes of soft watches, burning giraffes, and fly-covered carcasses the next. For anyone interested in twentieth-century art and one of its most gifted and charismatic figures, The Secret Life of Salvador Dalí is essential reading.
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Top Customer Reviews
But then how much of this memoir is "real" and how much artistic hyperbole is a question open to debate. For Dali consciously mythologizes his life and makes no secret of the fact that much of his "secret life" may not have actually taken place except in his imagination. "The difference," he writes, "between false memories and true ones is the same as for jewels: it is always the false ones that look the most real, the most brilliant." And shortly afterwards he writes of his life that the "all-powerful sway of reverie and myth began to mingle in such a continuous and imperious way with the life of every moment that later it has often become impossible for me to know where reality begins and the imaginary ends." This is Dali's way of winking at the reader--and yet it's an ambiguous wink at best.
For what must always be remembered is that for Dali, the imagination is every bit as "real" in its impact, just as material and plastic, as any historical or anecdotal fact of existence--if anything, the hyper-intensity of Dali's imagination gives his reveries even greater reality.Read more ›
If you compare this with other sources you'll find that the chronology for his youth is off, and (not surprisingly) some incidents are creatively embellished. Still, anyone interested in the artist should read this book first-- it's a great self portrait by a brilliant eccentric artist.
Reading this book really has solidified my perception of Salvador Dali as the kind of individual who takes great pleasure in deliberately confusing, fooling or repulsing an audience. Reading this book will not provide you with insight on the motivation behind Dali's works nor will it offer an honest portrayal of his life. Instead, it will just be an extensive lesson in how Dali would entertain an audience through narration. Sometimes his anecdotes can be quite amusing, which suggests that this book is appropriate for truly devoted fans of the great surrealist. However, I personally found it to be too unpleasant to recommend.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
What an incredible book. Beautifully written with incredible illustrations. Great gift for a hard to buy for individual! Read morePublished 13 hours ago by Amy Jean Hurley
I didn't get to read this, it was purchased as a gift for someone else.Published 2 days ago by stacey oliver
It was everything the photo looked and said it would be. Very good.Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
The book is very well written, I simply hate the life about which it is written.Published 8 months ago by Kenneth H. Sayers