He was a surrealist, an exhibitionist and an onanist, and SALVADOR DALI enjoyed

a life as extraordinary as his art.

Words: Susanna Beaumont

HE WAS A SHOWMAN WITHOUT SHAME AND an exhibitionist who would sing his own praises. And he sure sang them loud. ’Spiritually, I am the greatest genius of our age, the authentic genius of modern times,’

wrote Salvador Dali in 1964. The man renowned not just for painting soft watches but for his highly cultivated moustache and his obsession with all things carnal clearly understood the language of self—promotion.

. I,

Born in 1904 in the Catalan town of Figueras, Dali courted controversy from the start. He was thrown out of art school for ’extravagant personal behaviour’ and later journeyed to Paris where he met Picasso and Miro. By the late 19205, he had been proclaimed a surrealist by the head boy of the movement, Andre Breton. It was a heady time. The surrealists were a bunch of artists fuelled not only by sharp minds but also by

From top left, clockwise: Apparition of Face and Fruit Dish on a Beach(1938L Madonna of Port Lligat (1949) and Apparatus and Hand (1927)

racy levels of testosterone. They discussed the writings of Freud and talked about sex and sensation. And Dali was only too willing to jump aboard a m0vement that defied convention by revelling in brilliantly subversive fashion.

And his art? Without doubt it is weird. Dali declared that it Sprang from a hallucinatory energy. What's more, he believed himself to be a madman. His paintings delved deep into

22 THE LIST 6 20 Jul 2000