Dalí: the first celebrity modernist
There’s a big problem with seeing the surrealist movement as a pure, serious artistic phenomenon and Dalí as a hack who betrayed it. First, his best paintings are genuinely creepy and beautiful, and Un Chien Andalou, his 1929 cinematic collaboration with Luis Buñuel, is a masterpiece. But second, in taking modern art to the shops and turning it into telly, he recognised a reality. The avant garde in the modern age has two choices: either it is for a wealthy elite or it is for the masses. Dalí is accused, with some justice, of everything from snobbery to fascism, but the paradox is that he made modern art popular and accessible.
I, too, had his posters in my bedroom as a teenager. Whatever we think of the high-ness or low-ness of his art, he made an impact.
“Each morning when I awake, I experience again a supreme pleasure – that of being Salvador Dalí.”