May 11 is the birthday of Salvador Dali (b. 1904), so I decided to crack open an art book I got from last year’s MIBF: This is Dali, a biography of the famous Surrealist by art historian Catherine Ingram, illustrated by Andrew Rae.
I like Dali’s bizarre art, and I was drawn the graphic approach to this series (the Artists Monographs by Laurence King Publishing), plus it came with a lovely totebag (that still draws compliments wherever I go) so getting the book was a no-brainer.
While I’m familiar with Dali’s most famous works (and aren’t we all?) — “The Persistence of Memory” (aka melting clocks) and the Dali Atomicus (the photo with the flying cats) –he was no more than a passing mention in my aesthetics electives in university, so this book turned out to be an edifying read.
Dali’s quite a character, and this book takes us through his indulgent upbringing, his emergence as an artist, his ties with the Surrealist movement, his great love for his wife Gala, and his wild shenanigans: his temper tantrums, his lavish parties, harebrained schemes, and more.
It’s a quick read, with text that’s interesting to read (you won’t even feel you’re reading art history!) and lots of lovely ligne-claire illustrations, and key pieces from the artist’s body of work.
We get to see Dali’s less popular works, too, and I was captivated by this particular painting he did of his sister, Ana Maria, early in his career:
Such amazing detail and texture, and the visual narrative is just captivating.
Another interesting thing I discovered in this book is how Dali was a multimedia artist, dabbling not just in painting, but also sculpture, photography, film, architecture, storefront design, and even product and packaging design!
Here’s a film he collaborated on with his college friend Luis Buñuel — beautiful and creepy at the same time:
And I found out he actually designed the Chupa Chups logo in 1969 — he thought of putting the logo on top of the lollipop so it was fully visible — and it still reflects in the modern-day Chupa chups logo:
He was a great many things: narcissistic, power-hungry, materialistic, cowardly, flamboyant, and just plain weird, but nobody can deny that he’s a genius.
“This is Dali” is part of a series — there’s also Pollock, Warhol, Gauguin, Bacon, Matisse and Van Gogh (!!!) and now I want to get all of them!
This is Dali, hardcover, 4.5/5 stars
P595 at National Book Store