Modern Masters Review: Salvador Dali

May 22, 2010 by  
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What comes to mind when you think of Salvador Dali? Some melty clocks? A ridiculous tache? If you’re anything like me then that’s probably about it. Having said that, it probably won’t surprise anyone who has seen one of his mind-meltingly kooky paintings to hear that he was a rather eccentric chap.

My feelings toward the Spanish surrealist were pretty luke-warm until I heard that he had been thrown out of some art school in his early twenties for telling everyone that there were no professors fit to mark his work. As a shameless self-publicist myself, I had to admire prodigious confidence.

But after all the hype, where did this 1930s Jose Mourinho get his ideas and did he succeed in changing the world as well as his own? After this interesting, documentary I agreed with young presenter Alastair Sooke – he had. An essential forerunner to people like Andy Warhol, Damien Hurst and even Lady Gaga, he was not only a fabulously talented artist but a relentless showman who could mould an art scene like a piece of clay.

As such his appetite for attention was gargantuan and he moved from Paris to New York to L.A turning heads eveywhere. It was also surprise to an art novice like myself to hear that Dali was just as active in film as he was on canvass. In the early forties the Spaniard worked with Walt Disney and was sought out by Alfred Hitchcock to provide the dream sequences for Spellbound.

But what makes this a good doc is the sheer richness of the subject material. At some stages you feel like they must have been struggling to cram as much of this man’s eventful life into an hour as possible. At one point in the final stages of the programme Sooke travels to see the man who came up with that Dairy Milk advert with the drumming gorilla who describes Dali as a ‘branding expert’, with some credance. Dali would certainly have approved of the drumming gorilla.