For those who slogged through any of Dali’s self-penned, self-invented autobiographical smokescreens, this is like a clear vista through winter air in which all of the edges of things are in sharp focus and the colors are crisp. The author is the European editor of Town and Country, and she understands the machinations of the rich and famous and how the art world really operates. Having gained access to numerous previously unavailable archives and unpublished letters, she has pieced together a realistic narrative of the strange and sometimes banal life of one of the world’s greatest self-promoters. We get a picture of Dali’s strained relation with his family that reached the breaking point when wife Gala took control.
Gala’s story is not a pretty one. She is painted here as a conniving, calculating, petty control freak who eventually held Dali a virtual prisoner in his studio, cranking out society portraits to support their increasingly extravagant lifestyle. By the end of his life, Dali had alienated everybody who should have mattered, and the credibility of his art was at serious risk. The author conveys a lurid story with an even hand. She closes with: “Beneath Dali’s posturing public figure is an artist who never ceased to explore his inner and outer worlds and their possibilities; a painter who never ceased in his endeavors to find a way that painting might advance and inspire in a century increasingly dominated by the abstract marvels of scientific discovery.” SA
Publisher: Da Capo
Paperback: 480 pages