The Dali Legacy: How an Eccentric Genius Changed the Art World and Created a Lasting Legacy

The Dali Legacy: How an Eccentric Genius Changed the Art World and Created a Lasting Legacy

The Dali Legacy: How an Eccentric Genius Changed the Art World and Created a Lasting Legacy

The Dali Legacy: How an Eccentric Genius Changed the Art World and Created a Lasting Legacy

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Overview

This immersive dive into the life and work of Salvador Dali unlocks the secret of this creative genius and reveals for the first time how his erotically charged paintings changed the world of modern art.

In turns beloved and reviled, twentieth-century painter, filmmaker, and designer Salvador Dali set Europe and the United States ablaze with his uncompromising genius, sexual sadism, and flirtations with megalomania. His shocking behavior and work frequently alienated critics; his views were so outrageous, even prominent Surrealists tried to ostracize him. Still, every morning he experienced “an exquisite joy—the joy of being Salvador Dalí,” and because of his remarkable talent, Dali rose to unprecedented levels of fame—forever shifting the landscape of the art world and the nature of celebrity itself.

In this stunning volume, rich with more than 150 full-color images, noted art historians Jean-Pierre Isbouts and Christopher Heath Brown discuss the historical, social, and political conditions that shaped Dali's work, identify the impact of modern as well as old master art, and present an unflinching view of the master's personal relationships and motivations. With their deeply compelling narrative, Isbouts and Brown uncover how Dalí's visual wit and enduring cult of personality still impacts fashion, literature, and art, from Andy Warhol to Lady Gaga, and answer why, in an age of shock and awe, Dali's art still manages to distress, perplex, and entertain. An unparalleled guide to Dali and a critical resource for anyone keen to understand the development of modern art, The Dali Legacy is complemented by a contextualizing foreword from Frank Hunter, director of the Salvador Dali Archives.


Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781948062671
Publisher: Apollo Publishers
Publication date: 03/23/2021
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: eBook
File size: 47 MB
Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

About the Author

Christopher Heath Brown is one of the most prominent collectors of works by Salvador Dali in the United States and serves as the director of Brown Discoveries, a research institute focused on Renaissance, Surrealist, and Contemporary art. Together with Jean-Pierre Isbouts, Dr. Brown is the coauthor of The da Vinci Legacy: How an Elusive 16th-Century Artist Became a Global Pop Icon, The Mona Lisa Myth, and Young Leonardo, and the coproducer of The Search for the Last Supper and The Search for the Mona Lisa specials shown on Public Television. Dr. Brown lives in Cornelius, North Carolina.

Jean-Pierre Isbouts is an art historian and a professor emeritus at Fielding Graduate University. He is the author or coauthor of multiple history books, including Mapping America, Mapping the Holy Land, National Geographic’s The Ultimate Visual History of the World, The Biblical World, In the Footsteps of Jesus, and The Story of Christianity, which together have sold more than two million copies, and together with Christopher Heath Brown, the coauthor of the art books The da Vinci Legacy: How an Elusive 16th-Century Artist Became a Global Pop Icon, The Mona Lisa Myth, and Young Leonardo, and the coproducer of The Search for the Last Supper and The Search for the Mona Lisa specials shown on Public Television. Dr. Isbouts has been on numerous radio and TV shows, is the host of several series for The Great Courses, and has directed several programs for Disney, ABC, Hallmark, and the History Channel, working with actors such as Leonard Nimoy, Charlton Heston, Dick van Dyke, and Morgan Freeman, and produced recordings with orchestras around the world. Dr. Isbouts lives in Santa Monica, California.

Frank Hunter is the director of the Salvador Dali Archives. He lives in New York.


Christopher Heath Brown is one of the most prominent collectors of works by Salvador Dalí in the United States and serves as the director of Brown Discoveries, a research institute focused on Renaissance, Surrealist, and Contemporary art. Together with Jean-Pierre Isbouts, Dr. Brown is the coauthor of The da Vinci Legacy: How an Elusive 16th-Century Artist Became a Global Pop Icon, The Mona Lisa Myth, and Young Leonardo, and the coproducer of The Search for the Last Supper and The Search for the Mona Lisa specials shown on Public Television. Dr. Brown lives in Cornelius, North Carolina.


Frank Hunter is the director of the Salvador Dalí Archives. He lives in New York.

Read an Excerpt

Begin by painting like the Renaissance masters. After that, do as you wish. You will always be respected.

–Salvador Dali

Who was Salvador Dali, and what is the secret of his enduring popularity today? That is the question that inspired this book. Why does Dali still rank as one of the most celebrated artists of the twentieth century, even though for much of his lifetime he was both beloved and reviled for his uncompromising genius, overt eroticism, and flirtations with megalomania? Indeed, his controversial writings and outrageous behavior alienated not only his critics but also many of his fellow Surrealists. So then, who was this man who every morning experienced “an exquisite joy—the joy of being Salvador Dali”?

This question is even more striking when we remember that Dali rapidly rose to prominence during the roaring twenties of the artistic demimonde of Paris, when all sorts of new and daring Modernist movements were tearing at the fabric of traditional European art. With his prodigious talent, Dali was soon recognized as the public face, the universal brand of Surrealism. However, as his fame grew, so did his pursuit of celebrity and wealth, which, in the minds of many twentieth-century critics, overshadowed his reputation as an artist. Even as late as the 1960s, his provocative art continued to invite bewilderment, anger, and adoration, thus shifting the landscape of the art world and the nature of celebrity itself.

It is only in recent years that historians have begun to re-appraise Dali as one of the most influential artists of the modern age. Part of the reason, perhaps, is that his oeuvre includes not only paintings but also sculptures, films, theater sets, costumes, jewelry, clothing, and literary works, as well as a large number of drawings and graphics. Dali expert Frank Hunter believes this output rose to as many as two thousand graphic works and fifteen hundred paintings—an incredible body of work for a twentieth-century artist.

Today, Dali’s popularity is greater than ever. In addition to the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, and the Dali Theatre-Museum in Figueres, Spain, new Dali exhibitions and ad hoc “museums” continue to pop up all over the world, including recent exhibits in St. Petersburg, London, Dubai, Madrid, and Dallas. His whimsical, even outrageous approach to subject matter, his fondness for nudes, and his consistent adherence to the canon of traditional figurative art continue to exert a magical appeal.

What is less understood, in both popular and scholarly literature, is the root of Dali’s enduring popularity. Is it his choice of mystical motifs? His unique ability to capture the sensuousness of the nude? Or his dogged devotion to the Western canon of realism, even as modern art continued to plumb the uncertain depths of abstraction? And if that last is true, which styles of the past exerted the greatest influence on his work? Which Old Masters of the Renaissance and the Baroque served as his primary models? And to what extent was Dalí influenced by the exceptional realism of nineteenth-century artists—a movement usually referred to as “academic art,” given that this style was taught at art academies throughout Europe?

This is a major gap in the study of twentieth-century art history. We know a great deal about Dali's involvement with the Modernist currents of his time, but much less is known about his engagement with the Old Masters. This grows in part from a certain prejudice that historians of modern art have long harbored against the oeuvre of Salvador Dali. As long as Dali stayed in the mainstream of interbellum modern movements, he remained a respectable and legitimate subject of research, but as soon as he ventured out on his own, using the discredited paradigms of realism, he lost legitimacy as a twentieth-century artist—at least in the eyes of these authors.

A factor that heavily influenced Dali's reception in these critical circles of the 1950s and 1960s is that realism was the sole form of artistic expression tolerated in Nazi Germany, as well as Fascist Italy and Communist Russia. Those ideologies put an abrupt end to Modernist movements in their countries. So repulsive was the socialist realism of Nazi-era artists such as Arno Breker, Fritz Klimsch, Josef Thorak, and Adolf Wissel that for much of the twentieth-century postwar period, any form of representative art in Western Europe was considered ethically and aesthetically out of bounds.

Yet another reason why art historians have not grappled with the secret of Dali’s exceptional realism is more fundamental. Unlike most artists, Dali did not pass through neatly articulated phases of influence. The impact of Old Masters such as Hieronymus Bosch, Johannes Vermeer, and Diego Velázquez came and went with the ebb and flow of Dali's mind, prompted to some extent by his intermittent exposure to these artists.

But what does that mean, the “influence” of one artist or style on another? Many of us may identify the idea of artistic influence with pure imitation of a particular style or technique. But there are many ways in which an artist can draw inspiration from a work of the past. In the medieval period, for example, a pupil was required to imitate the master in obeying key conventions for the depiction of sacred scenes, because most of the faithful during the Middle Ages were illiterate. It was therefore important to understand the established tradition of how these sacred scenes were painted, so that worshippers could recognize the tableaux and understand what was going on.

The Italian Renaissance completely upended that situation when the role of artistic influence became exactly the opposite, as a factor of change, rather than conformity. Artists were now eager to learn from one another how far one could go in the pursuit of new solutions. Thus, the young Florentine artist Masaccio was among the first to depict human beings as fully realized, three-dimensional bodies rather than as the stylized figures of Gothic art. Linear perspective, first documented by the sculptor and architect Brunelleschi, allowed painters to create a convincing optical illusion of space by placing objects on a geometric grid. Similarly, artists like Botticelli broke new ground with the choice of daring motifs, such as the female nude in the Birth of Venus—a theme that a generation earlier would have been denounced as pagan and possibly heretical.

The artist Leonardo da Vinci introduced another set of revolutionary ideas that would launch the art of the High Renaissance, including the dramatic contrast of light and dark known as chiaroscuro; a more monumental treatment of the human figure; and the use of subtle atmospheric effects to suggest space and depth. These changes involved not only style and technique but also a radical rethinking of the relationship between a figure and the space it inhabits. Many of these innovations would cascade through the ages and inspire altogether new solutions, such as the theatrical light effects of Caravaggio, the tactile realism of Spanish Baroque painters, or the incredible virtuosity of seventeenth-century Dutch artists in the treatment of surface and texture. The late nineteenth century would usher in another set of radical new ideas, this time focused on the role of color, light, and framing, often inspired by the development of photography.

Throughout his life, Salvador Dali was a keen student of these movements—not only in terms of style but also motif, composition, and technique—even if that influence is not always readily apparent at first glance. As we will see in this book, Dali’s use of Old Master material could take many forms. He could copy a particular element outright, or he could use it as a model for his own works—Raphael’s elongated neck for a self-portrait, for example. He could also analyze a painting by, say Leonardo da Vinci, and then develop its principal motif to a point where the precedent was only dimly present—as in, for example, Leda Atomica or The Sacrament of the Last Supper. What’s more, Dali was a genuine Renaissance man in the truest sense of the word. He expressed his ideas not only in his drawings, graphics, and paintings but also in film, sculpture (including so-called “readymades”), stage designs, jewelry, and his voluminous literary output.

Our story will take us through all the main episodes of Dalí’s remarkable life, not only to trace the seeds of his inspiration but also to uncover the secret of his enduring legacy.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Frank Hunter, Director of the Salvador Dali Archives

Introduction

  1. Beginnings
  2. The Early Years: 1922–1926
  3. The Years in the Wilderness: 1926–1929
  4. The Persistence of Memory: 1929–1934
  5. New Horizons: 1934–1945
  6. The Atomic Era: 1945–1955
  7. The Mystic Universe: 1955–1960
  8. A Return to the Past: 1960–1968
  9. The Later Years: 1968–1989
  10. Epilogue

Essays

A New Interpretation of The Persistence of Memory

Illusion and Meaning in Dali’s The Skull of Zurbarán

Timeline of the Life and Art of Salvador Dali

Further reading

Notes

Credits

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