The Persistence Of Memory: A Biography Of Dali

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9780306806629: The Persistence Of Memory: A Biography Of Dali

Surrealist painter, author, filmmaker, lecturer, performance artist, charlatan, genius, clown, Salvador Dalí (1904–1989) once asked himself, "Where does the deep and philosophical Dalí begin, and where does the loony and preposterous Dalí end?" This evenhanded but exacting biography, based on interviews, unpublished letters, and previously unavailable archives, explores the relationship between his eccentric life and the hallucinatory imagery of the paintings that, like the soft watches, have become twentieth-century icons. The author penetrates the artist's self-mythologizing facade to reveal the man behind the outrageous mustache and cryptic canvasses: his Catalan childhood; his relationships with Garcia Lorca, Bunuel, Breton, Picasso, Miro, de Chirico, Man Ray, Ernst, and Eluard; Dalí's fixations, phobias, and Surrealist pranks; and his bizarre marriage to Gala—muse, business manager, nymphomaniac, gold digger, and finally tormentor. With reproductions of sixteen Dalí paintings, The Persistence of Memory offers an unrivaled tour of the absurd and haunting landscape of Dalí's life.

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About the Author:

Meredith Etherington-Smith is the author of a biography of Jean Patou, the European editor of Town & Country, and the editor of Christie's International Magazine.

From Booklist:

Dal{¡}i made such a spectacle of himself and allowed his work to be devalued so scandalously in his later years that it's difficult to assess his standing as an artist, but Etherington-Smith succeeds in portraying Dal{¡}i as a "consummate communicator," whether his medium was paint, language, or performance. Dal{¡}i's childhood was suitably bizarre and rife with the secretiveness of incest and adultery. These experiences contributed to Dal{¡}i's complex sexuality, a mixture of autoerotism, voyeurism, masochism, and homosexuality. Exceptionally intelligent and talented, Dal{¡}i was drawing and painting with great facility at an early age, while already displaying the tendencies of the eccentric dandy he later became. Etherington-Smith traces Dal{¡}i's creative evolution through his early autobiographical works to the oneiric iconography of his surrealist period, and his later obsession with religious and metaphysical subjects. The two major figures in Dal{¡}i's life, after his domineering father, were Federico Garc{¡}ia Lorca who loved him and, most importantly, the notorious nymphomaniac Gala, who was more keeper, tyrant, manager, and jailer than wife. Their 50-year liaison, while strange and often painful, was undeniably fruitful. To Gala's credit, she kept Dal{¡}i sane and working; to her shame, she eventually turned him into a virtual slave to ensure that he produced enough artwork to keep her in cash and young men. Etherington-Smith discusses the more unsavory aspects of Dal{¡}i's outlandish life with unfailing sensitivity and circumspection, while basking in the glow of his finer moments. Dal{¡}i dazzled the world with his unforgettable imagery, licentious wit, flair for absurdity, and gift for melding the silly with the serious and the artistic with the crass. It's a curious fact, and one indicative of Dal{¡}i's ability to tap into the collective unconscious, that this crazy Catalan's meticulous paintings "strike resonant chords in those who are, paradoxically, not interested in painting." This is a lucid and respectful interpretation of an enigmatic and compelling subject. Donna Seaman

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Etherington-smith, Meredith
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