( Originally Published 1955 )
Representing the figurative side of the modern Surrealist movement, this Spanish-born painter, illustrator and writer has single-handedly made Surrealism (see) an international commodity. From the beginning an enfant terrible, he has created a stir wherever he has gone: at school in Madrid; exhibiting in Madrid and Barcelona; studying in Paris, and exhibiting his very provocative works there. In 1931 he collaborated on a Surrealist film, The Golden Age, and in 1934 illustrated Lautreaumont's Les Chants de Maldoror. Since 1940 he has been living in the United States, which has embraced his somewhat sensational ideas. After a retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in 1941 his Secret Life of Salvador Dali was published in 1942. The publicity surrounding this painter must be separated from his significance.as an artist, especially in view of the avowed shock aims of the Surrealist school in general. The painting method of Dali may be described as a creation in paint of a far-reaching dream-world space in which move clearly and coldly painted figures. These figures arbitrarily bring together incongruous details and forms-as Bosch had done in the fifteenth century and Chagall in the early twentieth. Apart from its disconcerting effect, this method prods the imagination and the conscious mind into new avenues of thought, presumably under the influence of the subconscious or the dream world from which the images are drawn. Few people will deny that these works are stimulating and thought-provoking, but few will agree on the extent of their aesthetic purposefulness.